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Mossflower Odyssey IV: The Beasts in the Crater => Contest Discussion => Topic started by: Tooley Bostay on June 21, 2017, 12:10:22 AM

Title: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on June 21, 2017, 12:10:22 AM
'Ello, mates, an' welcome t' Tooley's very own review thread! *trumpet in distance*

Here I'll be cataloguing any observations I have of the applications. I'm unlikely to do reviews of the story itself, though that depends largely on whether or not I make it into the contest. We'll call it TBD for now. We have no actual applications up and about yet, bu~ut we do happen to have quite a few names! So, I figured I'd start off my review thread with my own Extremely Unlikely Predictions ('cause I can't hold a candle to Matra's clairvoyance. Those are golden).

Gonna do these a little bit different from Matra. Rather than constructing a whole, wacky idea of what the character might be, I'm going to just jot down what immediately comes to mind when I read the name. May be short or long, may be silly or serious.

And I want to note that I'm doing this entirely for fun right now, so don't take any of these personally! The actual reviews will come out once the apps are live and readable, so for now, just grab a seat and some popcorn and let's have some fun guessing!

I don't have time tonight to knock them all out at once, so we're going to start with 10, randomly drawn from the lot!

First ten:
Spoiler: show

  • Leota Nettlekin - Squirrel hunter, and the pride of her family. She's a wizard with a bow and arrow, but despite the praise and adoration of her family and friends, she finds no joy in it. Her real passion lies in herbology, which she practices often on her unwilling, younger brother. She's terrible at it. Poor bro is more sick than not now, but Leota swears that she'll find the cure for his latest illness. This time, for sure!

  • Lacey McTally - A watervole matriarch. The youngest of eight growing up, Lacey was simply ignored, but she found comfort in the silence. She watched, she learned, and she realized that beasts could be controlled, so long as you knew just what to say, and how to say it. She now runs the premier ferrying business along the Moss, and whether they know it or not, every beast that crosses that river is under her paw.

  • Sarek - A ssssnakey dude who loves him some fruit. Watermelons, bananas, grapes--if it's sweet and edible, he is there. The seeds get stuck in his teeth all the time, only accentuating that ssss lisp, but social malfunction is worth it to dine on the nectar of nature's gifts. He has set out to find the one fruit to rule them all that's the perfect combination of rich, sharp, sweet, and savory.

  • Cliffcrawler - A jittery, rabid Flitchaye. Has a tendency to wipe foam from his/her mouth. No one can even tell what gender they are, since they don't speak except in growls and hisses, and if you get within a paw's reach you're likely to lose a finger. Loves shiny objects, and will nab anything that so much as gleams.

  • Azalea - (As someone who works in gardening, this one was hard to think of without going to plants. =P ) She is never seen without her basket of treats. The slow-shuffling, kindly old mouse has become something of a town legend, appearing only one day, just after the break of spring. The dibbuns regard her with a wonder as if she'd just stepped out of one of their storybooks. Past the strawberry-imbued pastries and cream-topped tarts lies the heart of an old warrior, who every year visits the unmarked graves of her fallen brothers and sisters. No one else will remember them. She considers telling her story, of warning those wide-eyed dibbuns of the great, looming danger they face, but she can't bring herself to rob them of the comfort and joy so many died to bring.

  • Ascayir - A desert-bound stoat nomad, looking to peddle off the trinkets and knick-knacks he's come across. The dude has a terrible eye for value, and doesn't even realize how rich he could be. He's sold jewels for junk, but also junk for jewels. So long as his little rickety hand cart has enough to carry him to the next village, he's happy.

  • Drugaen - This weasel is convinced he can see the future. He has dreams and everything, vivid as if he was really there, and they always predict the future accurately. The problem is that he can only remember the dreams after the event has occurred. Poor sap has become the laughing stock of his village, at least until the fire burned everything - and everyone - down. He knew the fire would happen long before any dream occurred. From the first spark striking from his flint, to the screams of those stupid beasts scurrying about for their lives. Perhaps in the afterlife, they would finally be able to see that he was telling the truth.

  • Faye - The daughter of a well-to-do fox warlord. Any time she passes by something reflective, she takes at least five minutes to peer, prune, and pose. Her most prized possessions are her twenty-five jeweled rings, each given by a prospective suitor. Sadly, none of them quite measured up to daddy dearest's standards. She kept the rings. He kept their heads.

  • Caa - This snake has trust issues. It's not his fault, really, it's just that beasts don't tend to place confidence in the coiling scales of a big, nasty, adder. He tries to tell them he lost his fangs ages ago, just after he was born, and that he wouldn't hurt a fly, but can't get as much of a word in over their screams. So now he's taken to just shouting at people "trust in me, please!" They've only started running faster.

  • Lane Harwell - Dude is a bro's bro. Surfer otter is the name of the game, and surfer otter is here to makes some waves AND splashes, ya dig? Shirts are anethema to this otter, and he has a jutted jaw that makes it look like he's always chewing cud. He thinks it gives him the right balance of "bad boy" and "hearthrob" for the watching ladies. *finger guns* To his credit, he's dang good, and has pioneered a new form of water sport that's a strange mix of baseball and football. But in the water. It'd probably even take off, if he didn't keep hogging the spotlight. Heck, sometimes he switches teams mid-game just to bring the losers back from an unwinnable position!



Aaaand that's all for now. More later, mates!
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Matra Hammer on June 21, 2017, 05:52:58 AM
This weasel predicts two snakes in one application pool? And kindly snakes at that? Scary business if he's right, people. Hide your fruit.

Also noticed a grand majority of these predictions revolve around beasts who bide their time or find happiness in what's immediately around them. HMMMMmmmMMmmmm.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Vizon on June 21, 2017, 08:10:08 AM
Quote
Lane Harwell - Dude is a bro's bro. Surfer otter is the name of the game

When I read "Lane Harwell" I thought more of Lois Lane. So like, a perky, nosy reporter dame who always seems to be getting into trouble. Squirrel, of course. Got to close to the wrong story and got thrown in the arena by thugs who didn't want to be reported on.

I'm chalking this interpretation up to my recent Lackadaisy reading, though. Finally caught up!
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Rascal on June 21, 2017, 08:35:24 AM
I laughed at some of these ideas xD
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on June 21, 2017, 01:06:16 PM
THE WEASEL RETURNS

Click the spoiler to expand 'em all.
Spoiler: show
  • Dea Brahle - A rough'n'tumble lawyer shrew. She'll never know the front from the back of a sling, but she can recite Common Mossflower Law backwards. She's currently hunting down illegal narcotics that have been making the rounds through the forest, and the deeper she searches, the more she realizes just how far beyond the Moss the whole operation extends.

  • Blu Yardel - Abandoned at a young age, this ferret was found by a kindly hedgehog couple and raised as their own. He maintains their out-of-the-way hovel in tip-top shape, always grateful for their love and acceptance, though he's never as free as when he's out on the river, a fishing pole in his paws. One day, he spots strange-looking ships heading into the mainland and decides to follow, getting into far more than he ever bargained for.

  • Tope Benwrath - The village idiot, this squirrel has made a living benefiting from his mishaps. First it was that broken floorboard in Mrs. Barkwillow's loft that earned him a year-long supply of treacle tarts, then it was Redd's moldy ale that earned him free drinks every night. Despite his bruises, Tope lives a comfy life thanks to the generous reparations of the community.

  • Ffinn ap Gwinn - what is this name Ffinn is a seal, hailing from yonder cold lands. He's a journeybeast, though not to explore the distant world, or to taste the culinary delights of different people. No no, he just wants to let as many people as possible know of his great accomplishments in life, such as when he built a hut from only ten sticks on an icecap during a freezing storm, or when he held off a raiding party of thirty sixty pirates. Once he's told everyone about his incredible accomplishments, he plans to travel the world again, to brag about how he's traveled around the entire world.

  • Maeve - A mole undertaker. She always drops a few coins into the holes she digs. To offer passage for the beasts into Dark Forest, but also to act as a ward against the roaming spirits that haunt her graveyard. Only the glitter of metal seems to keep the spirits at bay, and her only concern is that the specters leave the poor, deceased beasts alone.

  • Silas Hetherton - A cartographer hailing from Redwall Abbey, this dormouse comes from a long family line of map-charters. His father's unfinished map of the Northlands has always perked his interest, in particular a mostly-blank region with the words "Never Return" written above. By his father did return, and hasn't been heard from in years. Maps and notes tucked to his side, the dormouse sets out to discover this lost region, and find out what happened to his father.

  • Silas Cutwick - (had to couple these two together) Silas Cutwick is a fox blacksmith, though you'd never be able to tell from his scrawny frame. No one has seen him so much as lift a hammer, much less create his pieces, yet from his forge flow the most dazzling of designs. His name is passed around more and more among the vermin tribes, and one day he is approached by a newly-established rat warlord, requesting a sword to rival the legends. Silas refuses, and the irate warlord gives him three weeks to have his sword made. When the warlord returns, he finds the forge completely gone, and none of the locals seem to know anything about a fox blacksmith ever being there.

  • Thrayjen - A daredevil bluejay. His parents always warned him about mingling with the groundwalkers, but the flightless beasts showed such wonder and delight in his aerial tricks. One day he meets with a particularly intelligent mole, who just gets it. If the mole had wings, she'd probably be able to fly circles around Thrayjen. Together, they work out more and more daring, complex stunts. The stunts grow increasingly dangerous, but Thrayjen has never felt more alive.

  • Jarl - A wolf warchief. His hobbies include calling for mead, lounging in his hilariously large throne, and killing any challengers to his rule. One day, his resident seer approaches him, face stricken with terror. She explains that the runes have foretold of a beast, wreathed in flame and wielding lightning, coming to overthrow Jarl from his rule. Her prophecy is cut short as his mighty axe severs her head, though the dreams of a fire-born beast begin to haunt him from that night forth.

  • Bechtel - A hedgehog brewer who's learned how to talk to the bees from his grandpop Olvan. The bees usually tell him how the honey production is going every year, but they've begun to discuss other things. Darker things. Treachery within the very walls of Redwall, led by the Abbess herself as she conspires with vermin outside the gates. This knowledge stews within Bechtel's mind until he can't abide it any longer, and approaches the Abbess with this knowledge. He only remembers her barking out an order to the Abbey badgermum before waking up in the hold of a strange ship, sailing for a distant land.

  • Feodor Stefanovich - A crane from far beyond the sea. The hot climate of the Northlands do nothing for his feathers or complexion, but he's willing to bear it, for he's absolutely certain he saw a gorgeous crane flying this way. He was sure it was just a dream when he first saw her, but when he awoke, she still flew above, clearly seen even under the dark of night, her feathers glittering like the stars. He doesn't know why something so beautiful would come to such a horrid place, but he's willing to find out.

  • Gemini Appleloom - The local school bully, Gemini is equal parts brain and brawn. This otter knows exactly what buttons to push for each of his classmates, and how far to press them to get exactly the reaction he wants. Why does he do this? What deep, pain-born reason could prompt him to be so brutish? Nothin'. Dude's just a jerk.

  • Malukh - A female monitor lizard, hot on the trail of the badger that slaughtered her fellow tribesbeast. She's captured a traveling merchant rat, who is her only lead to where the badger went. The two butt heads and hate each other's guts, but slowly come to rely upon one another. Well, that is until the rat ditches her when a tribe of cannibal foxes descends upon them. Malukh made it out with a few teeth marks in her scales. The rat made a fine dinner.

  • Jogan Lazare - A rat astrologer, studying the stars for the universe's greatest secrets. He believes every ebb and flow to life is reflected in the heavens, it's only a matter of seeing the patterns. His postulations are always disproven, however, and so he takes up trade as a ship's navigator. He's grown old and his passions have long died out, but every now and then, he gazes up at the stars and begins to see a twinkle of premonition, just waiting to be proved.

  • Sima - A badger prince who was run off from his kingdom after he was convinced that he killed his father. He now lives deep in Mossflower Woods, having befriended a plucky squirrel and hedgehog duo. Rumors are reaching his ears, though, that his dastardly uncle has turned Badger Rock into a terrible place, and now he is faced with the choice of returning to his homeland and restoring order to his people.

  • Diamond - A fast-talking ferret cardshark. No one knows his real name, he just goes by "Diamond." He always has a ready smile for anyone who approaches, as well as a deck of cards to place bets. The bets don't have to be on anything special, just whatever someone is willing to wage. Even when he loses the game, he never truly loses. There are more things than money and trinkets to win in a game of cards, so long as you're looking in the right places.

  • Sly Speakeasy - This fox is an expert infiltrator, able to jump into any role that a situation demands. Deception is an art, and you'd be surprised who you can convince with the right accent, posture, and trappings. He once convinced a throng of hardened mole miners that he was their Foremole. Made off with a whole shipment of valuable jewels, and they were none the wiser.

  • Altra Gnawear - This hogmaid learned a lot of things from her time in a vermin warband. When to speak, who to speak to, and how to carry yourself through every footstep. It's how she survived. But it's not just scars she's brought home with her, following her escape. During her time in captivity, she developed quite a taste for vermin food, notably meat. She's gotten by on fish, but every now and then, she looks at passing beasts and wonders if they even know how good they taste.

  • Percival - Runts aren't a new thing in vermin hordes, but this rat youngster got the worst of it. Cursed with a permanent limp, unable to lift a sword half-way to his chest, he's taken to stuffing himself away in the back of his parent's tent, reading the scrolls he's stolen from the horde seer. The seer eventually finds out, but instead of punishing him, decides to take him on as an apprentice and teaches him all about the world that exists at the edges of the physical.

  • Strathcomb Piccadilly - He's a hare. Sorry, Strath's author, I know you might be desiring more, but this isn't even a guess. Dude's a hare. Probably a decorated general. Military dropout? I dunno. But he scoffs a bunch of food here, shouts bally wotsits there, etc. etc. If I had to get wild, I'd say he's part of the Salamandastron marching band, and doesn't know a sword from a spear.

  • Hoober Blackfoot - Hoober is the piece of gum that you step on and just can't seem to get rid of. The stoat tries his best, and that's the problem, he's just always there. Look to your left? Hoober. To your right? Hoober. No one can seem to shake the guy, and he's none the wiser. At least until they banish him from the community, hand him a travel pack, and say "go bother someone else."

  • Ander - This otter hates everyone. No, really, everyone has some way of getting under his fur and just bugging him. Problem is, he's the mayor of the River Basin, a meeting place for seven different large otter holts. He can't quit the job, not without looking like a complete failure, so instead he focuses his ire upon paperwork and decrees. A little more taxation, some embargoes--anything to spice up a day and give him a reason to argue with someone in a loud, shouty voice.

  • Nokki Avaartin - A rat lass who always carries around a strange, patched-together satchel. She always walks around with it hugged to her chest, and never lets anyone looks inside it. Eventually, beasts' curiosity grows insatiable and they try to pry it from her, only to feel the cold of a dagger plunging into their chest.  Nokki runs from the village to the next place that will take her, and the cycle begins again.

  • Jasper Hooklaw - A cocky weasel captain who inherited a supposedly cursed ship from his uncle. Former crewmates say his uncle spoke of a ghost haunting the ship, and eventually was driven to madness, running over the deck in wild circles before leaping out into the sea. Jasper tells the crewmates to shut up and get to scrubbing the deck, while he straightens his prized jade-embedded hummingbird brooch. It's after the first week at sea that he wakes up to find his brooch missing. He storms to his door to demand who is responsible, only to find it locked. He tries his key, which doesn't work, and then realizes that the door has somehow been locked from the other side. And then, clear as daylight, he hears the voice of his uncle: "Run, Jasper!"

  • Marcus - A rook with a fear of all things creepy and crawly. The idea that worms are a delicacy sends Marcus into fits of gagging and shivers. So, he has made it his goal to enlighten the minds of his friends and family, by becoming the first cook of his roost. His initial attempts are met with polite comments, but he tosses these into the waste along with his hideous dishes. Despite the setbacks, he's determined to get it right, and make it so that no rook will ever have to guzzle something slimy and slithery and eeaughhhrkk~

  • Kali - master of all blades, Kali is a black-furred squirrel assassin. There are a lot of things goodbeasts shouldn't do, and that's why Kali does it for them. A nuisance that needs to be silenced? A dinner party turned into a tragedy? A cave-in to stop any further mining? The right people know where to find her for all this and more.

  • Herin - Gonna dodge the "THEY'RE A HERON" temptation. This determined Sister of the Abbey is the bright future of Redwall, and by all accounts is next in line to inherent the position of Abbess. From working the orchard fields with Sister Moira, to studying under Sister Rosalind in the Gatehouse, to mending beasts in the infirmary with Brother Fallo, this mouse has done it all, and is primed to take on the supreme duty of serving the beasts of Redwall. Which makes it all the more of a shock when she is not selected to become Abbess. Confused, frustrated, and hurt, Herin takes what little she has and strikes out into Mossflower Wood for some time alone.

  • Black Jasmine - Part time seamstress, part time underworld crime leader. Contrary to popular belief, that is her actual name. She considered changing it to hide her illegal dealings, but with a name like that, why even bother? She often uses her seamstress business as a cover to smuggle information and goods sewn into the lining of sleeves and jackets.

  • Minerva - This molemaid is out for blood, and she wants it now. Her village was destroyed by a wildfire, and only she and a handful of other beasts made it out alive. Now she roams the land, searching for whoever was responsible for the fire. Little does she know, the fire was caused by a lightning strike, but that won't stop her from raiding any and all vermin settlements in her path, crying out for justice.

  • Kentrith Hapley - A bookish fox who grew up far from the any of the conflicts that has characterized much of the world. He reads outlandish stories of blood feuds, wars, and beasts being divided into categories like "vermin" and "goodbeast." They're all thrilling but ultimately ridiculous stories, until one day a good friend of his family stumbles across the threshold, one paw holding the contents of his stomach in. As the rat bleeds out, he speaks of a looming war, of hares and mice and otters on the horizon, coming to wipe out all vermin. The rat dies before any help arrives, leaving only Kentrith to consider his warning.

  • Jovan Yaldon - Known better as "Jovan the Bloody," this wolverine has made his name by slaying every chief warrior from each of the villages he visits. Few offered as much as a challenge, but he holds hope that one day his blade will falter against the might of a better warrior than himself. No one knows why he's so driven to be killed, but all fear him whenever he graces their village.

  • Tam Burr - A young squirrel obsessed with constructing small-scale versions of great wars. He'll create hundreds of little pieces to represent the vermin and goodbeast armies, and will paint them to a fine detail before sending them out to battle. As always, only the goodbeast winners of the battle survive the destruction of his reenactment, though Tam harbors a terrible secret. In the far back of his drawer, he's kept a stash of his favorite vermin figures - Urgan Nagru, Ferahgo the Assassin, Tsarmina Greeneyes - and refuses to destroy them, despite what history very well dictates. Occasionally, he even takes them out to see what would have happened had they won the war. It always scares him how much he enjoys seeing their conquest.

  • Caecillia - A rabbitmaid from a very successful, high-up family, and engaged to a promising young hare soldier of Salamadastron. Culture shock hits hard when he takes her to visit his family, and they are aghast at their son falling for a rabbit, rather than a proper hare. The first night is a travesty, despite her attempts to win them over, and even worse is that she's supposed to stay there for an entire month. A lieutenant of the Long Patrol finds her one day crying on the stairs, and offers to teach her the ins and outs. She accepts, and while her dainty paws can barely operate a bow, she takes surprisingly well to the strategic component of the military. Her fiance's family still refuses to accept her, but she finds herself accepted more and more by the members of the Long Patrol.

  • Komi Banton - ferretmaid barkeep of a rundown port village. She's seen it all, and it's all grown dull and boring. One day, a cloaked beast enters and slaps an expensive, exceptionally well-crafted necklace onto the desk. The beast speaks with a strained, but rushed voice, saying the necklace is payment so long as Komi can get her to a healer. Port towns are the best place to find medicine, so Komi takes the beast into the back and does her best to stitch up the multiple lacerations suffered by the elderly squirrelmaid. Komi notices a tattoo burned into the squirrel's back, but when she asks, she receives no answer. The following night, three hares enter the bar. She knows their type. She waits until they make their first move, then cuts each down in a swift, surprise attack. When she goes to check on the squirrel, however, she finds nothing except a scrap of paper with an emblem matching the tattoo's design. Beneath are the words: "Find me if you really want to know."

  • Essa Pipanter - A nursery caretaker, this mousemaid is known best as "Mother" to over thirty various dibbuns that she's entrusted to care for. The Northlands are a dangerous place, and it's not uncommon for the parents to simply never return to pick up their children. Essa tries to fill in as best as she can, though her nursery has begun to attract the attention of more unsavory types. Beasts who have whispered about the profits they could earn by selling off the children on the market. Essa now sleeps by the front door, a sword always at her side. Some nights, the only thing she can cling to for hope are faint memories, stories of a warrior mouse from her homeland, clad in armor with a sword that struck down every evil beast that neared.

  • Adeen Pinebarrow - This otter has never once stepped foot into water. It's not because he doesn't like it, he just has better things to do, like tending his carpenter's shop. He's struck up a good friendship with the neighboring squirrels, who provide him the lumber. His goods aren't particularly amazing, but it's enough to make a living and support his family. It's what makes it all the stranger when a hare walks into his shop one day and requests a desk made from the finest of ebony. It's an incredibly expensive job, but the hare pays for it all upfront, saying he trusts Adeen to deliver the product on time, and of the sort of quality he desires. The otter begins the job eagerly, but years of haggling and business-smarts send warning bells flaring in his mind--there's something more to this. He just doesn't know what.

  • Kentigern MacRaff - a fishing gull off the coast of Salamandastron. Kentigern was enlisted by the reigning badgerlord to keep an eye out for any nearby pirate vessels. He happily accepts the job, as every night he comes back to find a fresh dozen fish waiting for him for his troubles. Nothing is ever out on the sea, anyway. Until one day, there is. Kentigern goes in closer to see what beasts are on-board when an arrow pierces through his wing, sending him crashing into the ocean. He's able to struggle to the surface of the water, but is unable to escape the searat vessel from dragging him on-board.



Whewwww, and that's all! This was fun to do, and I hope fun for you all to read. I'm super excited to see what actual characters belong to these names, and wish everyone the best of luck! =D

Actual reviews of the Top 30 will follow once they go up.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on June 27, 2017, 08:37:05 PM
Apps are out! The first lap is done! Second lap is a-go! You know what that means?!

WE'VE GOT REVIEW POWER, GENTS AND GENTESSES. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cx00LHagvxM)


So how am I going to do this? Pretty simple, actually. I'm going to talk about what I liked about an app, what I didn't like, and what I would like to see if the character makes it into the story. Also, I'm going to post a piece of music that I think fits the character. Don't read too much into it, they're just for fun.

Now, my votes will not be locked in until the deadline arrives, so I'm very open to being swayed, if it seems like I'm wavering between the choices in a category. Shoot me a message, or a PM. You may just change my mind about that character you like. So bring on those paragraphs of defense about a character who is totally not yours. Yup.

Okay, let's do this.

Yonder Beasts of Foolish Persuasion

:poko: --- Malukh --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65hIejyvVoM)

(http://i66.tinypic.com/6dy838.jpg)

Jokes aside, I did enjoy this one. There's a lot of character-focused color to the narration, and we get a dang clear picture of Malukh's attitude. He's full of himself, and hopelessly ignorant (by design or otherwise) to the reality of the world around him. I like how the description is influenced by his perspective and biases. The audience clearly knows what's going on, but it's an opportunity to further see how Malukh views the world. The writing as well is solid, with lots of visual description peppered in to make sure the audience gets a clear picture of Malukh.

Wish there was a bit more to Malukh, though. We get a literal Q&A session with him, but I don't really feel like I know anything more about him. His father is dead, but he doesn't know where his father's siblings are? Should he? Does that matter? And what about his mum? He's obviously got quite a story on his shoulders, with him missing a leg, wearing a patchwork cloak, and yet being so totally sold to his regency, but I have zero clue what that story actually is.

If you get in, Malukh's author, I want to find out more about his story. Why is he so obsessed with becoming king? What's he been through? How will the Crater impact him? If Malukh just stays-the-course and never changes, then I'll be a sad panda, because his shtick will get old fast.

Overall: Writing is good, I enjoyed my time reading it, but I didn't have much "meat" to sink my teeth into afterwards, or anything to really hope to see should he get into the contest. The potential is absolutely there, but you'll have to step things up a bit, Malukh.


[insert bat emoticon here, since none exists] --- Kali --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tW2UNJeOBP8)

I'm reminded of Fievel Goes West. Once Kali begins playing that lute, just call her Tanya and make it a tavern full of wildcats and we're set. And then she sings and ruins it all. Alas.

I like the twist. How everything is going well, and then a big fat load of NOPE comes crashing down on poor Kali. I get a solid sense of her character, and multiple facets as well--she's daring, bold, talented (and untalented), sensitive, yet able to pick herself up and keep going. I find myself wanting to know what happens to her, how she gets roped into the Crater, and what she'd do once she's in there.
Also, props for the song bitm and how it was written. I could believe it was happening. An appropriate amount of time is given to have the vermin shift into enjoying the music, but in particular I like the line about the song taking her elsewhere, and the others just coming along for the ride. That line alone tells me a lot about Kali, how music influences her, and how she's not doing this just for the praise and accolades, but because she legitimately loves it.

There's a lot of SPAG messiness throughout this app. Capitalization errors, sudden POV shifts from Kali to the fox, misspells ("shutters" instead of "shudders"), etc. Now, I'm of the persuasion that character and story matters more in these contests than technical prowess, but it's worth noting. Kali also runs the risk of becoming annoying to not just vermin audiences, but the real one as well. If her clumsy antics are taken too far, she'll just become twinkish and obnoxious.

If you get in, Kali's author, I want to see Kali have worthwhile struggles that grow and challenge her. My worries about her obnoxious qualities are greatly alleviated by her emotional reaction at the end. It promises that there's more to this bat than at first glance. Show us this greater depth. Don't just fall back on quirks. Also, do keep an eye out for these SPAG issues. Avail yourself of the advice and editing help of your castmates, if you get in. They'll do a world of good to clean up those blemishes.

Overall: Fun character, energetic piece that translates well to the reader, but plagued by some missteps with the writing craft.


:weasel: --- Tooley's Verdict

I'm leaning towards Kali. Malukh is the better writer, I think, but Kali shows more promise as a character. I'm more curious to see where she goes and how she'll grow than I am about Malukh. Both good apps, with their own unique strengths, but right now I'm more drawn towards Kali.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Vizon on June 27, 2017, 09:01:48 PM
LOL Tooley - I hope Maluhk's author gets the joke about Tooley's patchwork hat. Certainly made me laugh. Great expression there.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Matra Hammer on June 28, 2017, 06:31:24 AM
Said this to Tooley via chat, but I can imagine the weasel face stretching thinner and thinner until he's only a thick, incredulous line on the page. Can't tell if Malukh's author deserves all the shame for biting Tooley's patchwork style, or all the praise for wearing it better, or if none of this matters and weasels/ferrets are silly creatures who all need better clothes. HMmmmmmmmm...

Looks like we agree a lot concerning this category. Wanted your thoughts on what YOU think each of these characters will do in the contest. I know the (valid) criticism of both is: well, where are they going? So, where do you think they'll go?

Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on June 28, 2017, 06:57:09 AM
Yes, I'll make it clear to Malukh's author, I'm not insulted at all, nor did I dock points from Malukh because of some imagined slight. I laughed once I saw the resemblance, and the picture is there completely in good fun. Patchwork mustelids unite! =]

And excellent idea, Matra. I think I'll do that for the rest of my reviews. As for the two I just did:

Malukh: I think he'd suffer a massive culture shock, and while he'd attempt to order about his fellow gladiators, once he sees that bloodshed and carnage of the Crater, he'd finally be humbled. Try to bargain his way back out, at least in secret, since I think his pride would prevent him from being a complete coward. He'd probably end up under the thumb of some higher-up within the Crater network, becoming a stooge in some larger scheme, though eventually he would have to throw this aside and actually rise to the occasion.

Kali: She'd end up learning to make use of her "weaknesses." That screeching is probably a decent weapon to disorient beasts. She's like the RPG bard with the status debuffs. She'll rise or fall based upon her interactions with the cast. She's a very colorful character, but doesn't have - at the moment - a compelling narrative that alone drives her forward, so she'd have to find her footing once inside the Crater.

So, honestly, in retrospect, I do think Malukh has more clear promise of a definable character arc. And could ultimately be compelling. It's just a question of if I want to risk voting for what could be, when I already know that Kali has more to her character, albeit lacking a more clear goal.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on June 28, 2017, 08:30:52 AM
Whoaaaa, tons of more apps to read, huzzah! You know what that means? MORE REVIEWS TO READ!

Beasts Who Really Need to Take a Chill Pill and Lay Off the Grudges

"But Tooooley, that's not the next category in order!"

This is true. I'm going to be randomly selecting each category, so be on yours toes, lads and lasses!

:gashrock: --- Silas Hetherton --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuAaJ3cYjAU)

Oof, this one was weighty and heavy to read. And that's good. In a way, it hurts to read that first half, which keys us right into Silas' own emotions. And that leads us excellently into him learning the truth and wanting revenge. I like how the description is handled as well. There's a good, character-focused flow to things, like: "Every hour, every blister, and every resulting coin was put towards freeing his family," Each one fits a different category - time, physical, and monetary cost - and they all tie into the stakes of the character, of how he was trying to pay for the situation he was in.
Also, is "Orwell" a reference to George Orwell? I can see the whole "dam overlooking the farms, controlling the lives of the people" being a possible nod to 1984.

Some things throughout the piece confused me. The very first lines are about debtor's prison, how beasts waste away within... yet we never see it at all. Is there an actual prison? Was Silas ever there, or was his family thrown in while he was allowed to work off the debt? Because the app begins there, it's jarring to realize "oh wait, Silas is wandering into some town. ...uh, okay." I'm also not exactly sure when all this is taking place. Did he just finish burying his family, or is he simply visiting their graves? If the latter, how has he lasted this long, given we see him staring meaningfully at the gallows? All this gives the vibe that the scene is a touch contrived, or rather that it removes the reader from fully believing that it's all "actually" happening. That these are just scenes written because they had to be written that way.
Also, if Timberfell was using the dam to con the farmer beasts, then why did he never approach Silas? Given that Silas owned the farm right next to Orwell.

If you get in, Silas' author, then continue to build compelling arcs for Silas. It'd be easy to just rest on "his story is about killing this beaver chap," but you won't survive long if that's all Silas' character is about. How would Silas relate/react to the other cast members? Make every post of every week something interesting, either in what Silas is doing or what we're learning about Silas.

What I think will happen? Silas gets in, struggles to form compelling bonds, and so resorts to creating NPC's to drive his character arc. This works, for the most part, and he'll survive a few weeks, but eventually he'll be overtaken by the other characters, who have developed compelling arcs, rather than still operating on one arc from the app phase.

:fox: --- Altra Gnawear --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WSMm7JOtHM)

There are some cool, cultural touches here that I like. The clan earring is a nice touch, and is a grounding element to solidify Altra's uniqueness (rather than just relying on "ooh, she's a silver fox!"). The dialogue as well was well done, and with the back-and-forth between Altra and the other fox, I was really interested to see what would happen.
I also appreciate the speedy pace. The ferret bartender isn't described getting a mug, then filling it, then walking back to the counter, then setting it down, and then pushing it to her. Nope, he scrambles for the barrels, taps it, then we jump right to the frothy mug being passed to her. Probably the biggest example of the speedy pace is the sudden shift from Altra's memories to the other fox being thrown outside the tavern. It's a little jarring, but it works well, and promises that the author won't waste our time with trifling details. We're there in the moment. Stuff happens. Boom!

But I don't really like Altra. That is not a snub against her author or the writing - the writing itself is pretty solid - I just don't like Altra's character that much. She's haughty, arrogant, and prone to overreactions. Beyond her quest for revenge being accomplished, I'm not sure why I should root for her. She's been wronged, sure, but she has such an unpleasant personality that I'm not really sure she's much better than the beast who wronged her.
Heck, I'm more interested in this other fox. Who is he? Why is he helping her? He's willing to step way out of his way to assist her, which has me curious. Also, it's clear that there's a budding romance of sorts, at least in his case, which is probably the only thing that makes me want to see Altra get in--I'd like to see how their story resolves, not so much how her story resolves.

If you get in, Altra's author, then you need to develop some solid relationships with the other cast members fast. Yes, I really like the growing bond between her and the other fox, but he's still just an NPC, and that alone isn't going to be good enough. Also, look at having the audience understand Altra a bit more. Why is she so uppity? Can she even be humbled at all? Why should I care about her quest, beyond simply her being slighted?

What I think will happen? Altra struggles to straddle the line of staying true to her character-appropriate mannerisms (being superior to other beasts) and relating with others. She ends up compromising by going for a semi-leadership role, which works for a while, but her lack of sympathetic qualities ultimately is her undoing.

:stoat: --- Tope Benwrath --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kT-HQG1MEc)

The rocks thing is really interesting, and adds a lot of color and flavor to Tope. I'm not exactly sure where he got the idea from, or why he follows it, but that's okay for now. It's a clever character element, and really helps him to stand out from the pack. The writing is capable and balanced, and reads easily. There's also the promise of more to see with this character--he seems to have an appreciation for justice and doing right by beasts - indicated by his help of the two woodlanders. Will be interesting to see how that manifests inside the Crater.

The scene itself confuses me. Seems like Tope was just standing by when this rich cat decided to give him trouble, and yet at the end, there's the bit about "the two beasts left on his list." Was the cat one of the beasts? I also didn't get a clear picture of where they were, or what the surroundings were like. It's not until the eighth paragraph that we see they're in a tavern, and then later suddenly a song begins to be sung? By who? Why? I got a clear picture of Tope, but his surroundings are vague and undefined, and prevent me from connecting with his actions. And am I supposed to make a connection between the "kill a good beast" and the two beasts on his list? If he's driven by revenge, are the beasts even good at all?

If you get in, Tope's author, I want to see Tope's motivations expanded upon. I'd like to see what's his deal with the rocks, and why he wants to get the white bag full to kill good beasts in the first place. Is it just to let off some steam, or are these beasts he's hunting down actually not guilty of anything? Also, take the time to build your scenery up. Paint us a picture of what's going on, and let us follow your character through the world, rather than stumbling to catch up with what's going on.

What I think will happen? Tope struggles a bit in the first few weeks, but his interesting hook with the balance earns him some engaging relations with some other cast members. He's got the qualities of a leader but the murkiness of a rogue, which will breed conflict both in the Crater's events, but also in the intercast relations. I can see him going far.


:weasel: --- Tooley's Verdict

Leaning towards Tope on this one. I think Silas is better written, and has a much more compelling quest, but Tope has stronger potential for interaction with the cast. If he plays his cards right, I think he can go far. Top 3, for sure. I'll have to take some time to consider this, though, since I did really enjoy Silas. I'm just not taken by Altra, sadly. Her strengths don't quite beat out the other two choices.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on June 28, 2017, 09:46:44 PM
And the review locomotive chugs along!

Beasts Who Need to Just Shut Up for a Bit

:mouse: --- Sly Speakeasy --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bZT6S_FNr8)

This is a light, fun read, and Sly is probably the most Gabby of the three choices here. None of the other apps quite have the focus on chattering on and on about trivial things, and this is Sly's bread and butter. The proverbial ne'er-do-well that can jabber his way out of anything.
Lots of chuckles scattered throughout this piece, and a large part of it has to do with the marriage of meter and character-voice. The banter has a great rhythm to it, and lines like "I'll keep it dumb," or "I’m not guilty, just ... frightened. You frighten me." are wonderful, because they get across a lot about the character without any unnecessary tags telling us he's winking, or saying things in an adverbly way.

Beyond the fact that he talks a lot and gets into trouble, I don't really know anything at all about Sly. I don't know what I should root for or expect out of him in the contest itself. At the beginning we're told that Sly likes to see "the looks" on other beasts' faces, but in regards to what? Why? What drives him? Sure, he savors their "stupid look" at the end, but he was trying to avoid that encounter in the first place.
Very sparse description work as well. While this fits the dialogue focus of the scene, it makes some parts - such as Sly's getaway - jarring and confusing. For all I know, he was still standing right in front of them, and then suddenly he's slinked away?

If you get in, Sly's author, I need to see some character motivations, and fast. You run the real risk of Sly's verbal charms becoming his only character trait, and that will get old fast. You've a capable handle on tone and humor-directed prose, so use that to your advantage as you build a character arc to lead Sly along. I want to figure out why Sly is so keen on causing a ruckus and savoring those stupid looks.

What I think will happen? Sly takes to the fights with ease and doesn't mind the bloodshed at all. Quips come fast and quick, but his greatest challenge will be building not only a suitable character arc, but maintaining solid relations with the cast.

:mouse: --- Hoober Blackfoot --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ktymp42xyKc)

Voles. Voles everywhere.

Props from the start for the song ditty. Got a nice, airy flow to the rhyming scheme which fits perfectly with Hoober's character. Like Sly, Hoober's got a clear voice, though I also appreciate that there seems to be more to him than just the gab. He seems to be some sort of wandering trader, and also appears to know a fair bit about the specific vermin that approach him. It's clear he's got history, and likely a story to go along with that.

But, on that note, the second half of this app lost me. Given the way it's written, we're told there's only a hare among the vermin, then an otter takes center-stage as the main instigator. Then the fact that they're wearing blue uniforms is pointed out... but the importance of that is never explained. And then the hare who was smirking mockingly at him is suddenly asking him about crabs and seems to be on his side? And they're offering him a never-defined proposition, I guess, and aren't just being facetious? And then Hoober was renamed by a hedgehog? So much goes on so quickly, and I'm sorry, I just have no idea how to follow it all, or how to make sense of it.

If you get in, Hoober's author, I'd really like to see context and explanation for Hoober's character. The writing here is very solid, and I enjoy Hoober's character, I just don't have a clue what's really going on with him. Of course, I understand you've story arcs to build, and those need time and patience, but some grounding details to help the audience understand where he's coming from would be of huge help.

What I think will happen? Hoober actually is caught in a massive web which ultimately leads right back to Nire. I'm not sure how he got roped into it all, but he is, and now he's got to survive. He doesn't take to fighting well at all, but he's supporting by the few friends and allies he's made, and leads an attempt to get out. It fails, but ends up serving as a catalyst for everyone to continue to resist.

[insert bat] --- Bechtel --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkKKYn7BpRw)

Bats. Bats everywhere. Though, joking aside, I really like the species diversity I've seen so far. You all have made me proud!

Took me a bit to figure out the blurry world/sight thing. It's echolocation, and I love that idea. A bat that has to keep talking in order to clearly see? Very clever use of the category, and it's a character-enhancing detail that draws inspiration from the species. Bonus props because the "gab" isn't just a silly quirk, but an intrinsic part of how this character lives his day-to-day life. I want to see more of this.
The whole piece drips with Bechtel's voice, and I found it to be genuinely funny. Bordered just the right amount of bitter snark and honest humor. There could have been a bit more verbal gab, but I think the description and dialogue both show that Bechtel's not going to run out of things to say anytime soon.

There's a massive tonal whiplash at the end that comes out of nowhere. I can appreciate the attempt to hint that there's more to Bechtel's character than just his chattering, but it hits the audience so hard and fast. Tighten that up in the future. Such a harsh transition needs care and more time to properly work.
And with that in mind, I'm left with questions I'm really uncertain about. So is Bechtel maybe unhinged, or just filled with a desire for justice? In either case, neither are foreshadowed at all.
Also, kudos for trying the mole accent, but I'd dial way back in the future. That's thick even for mole accents, and I had some trouble figuring out what was being said.

If you get in, Bechtel's author, don't lose the fun of the character by dipping too hard into the serious/dramatic stuff. Bechtel seems like a really fun character, so keep him fun to read! More of that description work, more of the character-focused banter, more creative uses of the echolocation thing. You should absolutely look to develop Bechtel and give him a proper arc, just don't suck all the life and fun from him in the process. Heck, despite the roughness of the transition, I do think there are glimmers of some backstory that I'm curious to learn more about.

What I think will happen? Bechtel struggles hard suddenly being in the harsh environment of the Crater. Maybe he snaps and just goes nuts. Maybe he hangs onto his sanity. Dunno. He'll form some close relations with a handful of the cast, and depending upon how he proceeds with that, I could see him making it far.

:weasel: --- Tooley's Verdict

Leaning to Bechtel on this one. All three apps have different shortcomings and different strengths, but I really like the uniqueness of Bechtel's character, and think he shows the most promise for being included in the story. Of the three, he's the one I most want to see interact with the other cast members, and learn more about.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Airan on June 29, 2017, 04:36:44 PM
It's been really quiet on the boards for some reason, despite the loads and loads of different review threads that are all active at the moment. I know everyone has to conceal their identities, but that doesn't mean we can't have some arguments discussions. :)

So, I want to touch briefly on your Gab review, Tooley. Namely in regards to Sly and Hoober- though I might touch on Bechtel a little bit as well.

What I've noticed in a lot of reviews for this contest, as well as previously in MO3, is that simpler characters tend to get written off very quickly in favor of characters who have more going for them. And for whatever reason, the criticism's of these characters tends to be that the reviewer doesn't know anything about them. One thing that needs to be remembered is that each app is only a little over 750 words, so it honestly should never be expected that someone figure out how to add in every little detail of their character's life in this one space. An important facet to remember is that backstory doesn't equal character. Character is personality, what they do in situations, how they think, how they talk to others, how they act and react- and of course the most important part, why they do this. Now to get to the point-

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Beyond the fact that he talks a lot and gets into trouble, I don't really know anything at all about Sly.

With this comment, and several others later, I think you have completely written off Sly as not having much character despite the fact that his app is nearly filled to the brim with examples of it. To summarize Sly's character as quickly as possible while providing examples: Sly is a very very arrogant character who knows he is the smartest person in the room-  It’s hard to be followed in the dark, but unfortunately, also difficult to see Sly’s favorite sight: the looks on other beast’s faces. “Don’t worry, I’ll keep it dumb." The otters stood in silence, presumably deep in thought. Maybe. Sly couldn’t be sure. Even when he makes mistakes- such as when he runs the first time and is caught- he's quick witted enough to improvise a new story to distract them so they let go of him. Then we know for a fact if the otter's story is to be believed that he has a history of- Stealing, drinking too much, an’, recently, getting into fights. This is speculative, but is he a drunk? I mean, it makes a lot of sense. Can you imagine this guy's personality and mouth when drunk. No wonder he's getting into so many fights.

That's all confirmed and things we know outright, all of which give a good glimpse into the character's overall lifestyle. Now it's time for me just speculating- “I’m not,” Bigger Brute replied. “Just proves you’re guilty.”

“See, that’s not true at all,” Sly said. “I’m not guilty, just ... frightened. You frighten me.”
- Sly is frightened not only because he 'looks guilty, but also because he knows these beasts are bigger than him. Words are his only weapon against them, and he knows that.

“As was I!” Sly cried, his voice cracking. “Who am I? He couldn’t recognize me? My own brother? So I scream ‘I don’t know anymore!’ - A stretch and totally assumption, but maybe Sly doesn't even want to be who he is. Maybe his story is a metaphor for himself.

It’s hard to be followed in the dark, - Why is Sly so concerned about being followed. Is this a regular occurrence?

Some of that is of course speculation, but the point was that there's definitely a ton of characterization still there to counter your statement about knowing nothing about him. He doesn't have the most clear path forward, like you said, but I could easily see him having a ton of potential in the story and among the cast. He's a general rogue character, he'll fit right in, and I don't think he should be knocked just because he doesn't have some grand backstory or explicitly stated character arc, especially with how much foundation has been laid, and how much there is to potentially pull from.

I have a bit more to say about Sly, especially in regards to comparing and contrasting him to Hoober, but I'll save that for later. Here's a few comments though for his sake just to help clarify some things-

Quote
But, on that note, the second half of this app lost me. Given the way it's written, we're told there's only a hare among the vermin, then an otter takes center-stage as the main instigator. Then the fact that they're wearing blue uniforms is pointed out... but the importance of that is never explained.

The prologue of the story says that the Crater staff all wear blue uniforms, so these beasts are most likely working for Nire. It's possible you just missed this in your reading, but it makes the rest of Hoober's post make a lot more sense with that context.

Lastly,

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And with that in mind, I'm left with questions I'm really uncertain about. So is Bechtel maybe unhinged, or just filled with a desire for justice?

I'm not so sure where you got this from. Bechtel seems perfectly reasonable in the head, certainly not unhinged. He's definitely willing to lie to customers so he can beat Gurry, but has enough of a moral compass and sense of justice that he's not going to let the mole get away with essentially letting a beast die for a quick buck, though he does maybe go too far. Though I do wonder. A lot of people are saying Bechtel killed Gurry here, but did he?

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For the first time, he noticed how hard Gurry shook in his grip, how tightly he grasped the mole, and how much blood streamed out onto the cobblestone.

Sounds to me like Gurry is alive and shaking, though certainly bleeding out.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Rascal on June 29, 2017, 05:06:13 PM
Things have been quite, I should know, I've been logging on every ten minutes to see if anything new has been posted. :D

Need of intervention aside perhaps we need a non review discussion thread, where we can post chatter box like stuff about the contest
 And on that note, I actually thought the bat killed him too. He came across as a very high strong fellow (favorite line was how he tried to shoo the mole off with his wings) and I got the general vibe that the bat, or someone he knows, was hurt by some kind of snake oil salesmen in the past. Or maybe he really is just high strung after all xD

The beast of gab is one of those category that I just can't decide who to vote for because, wow, I like them all xD This one will be the toughest for me to choose who I want to get into the story and... Possibly get brutally murdered... :<
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on June 29, 2017, 06:41:50 PM
Excellent suggestion, Rascal. A general sort of thread would be nice, though I'm not sure exactly what that would look like. Any ideas, folks?

EDIT: Speak of the Rascallion, a wild Chatterbox emerges! Go and dine, my good men and women, upon the morsels of opinions there.

And hurray! Debate! *cracks knuckles*

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...simpler characters tend to get written off...

A fair point. I don't necessarily mind simpler characters, or characters who succeed via power of personality. Vasily was one of my favorite apps in the last contest, and dude was pretty much all personality there. My issue with Sly isn't that he's simple, it's that I really don't know what to expect out of him. And part of this is a matter of taste. Simple characters win or lose based upon if they appeal to the readers. Sly is funny, and his author is talented, and I'd like to stress those, for sure, but the character just didn't really appeal to me. I didn't get drawn in, sadly.

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...completely written off Sly as not having much character...

A poor choice of words on my part, saying I didn't know "anything" about Sly. He absolutely has character, and I didn't intend to imply he didn't, I just didn't catch anything more than his gabbiness.

I did not catch the potential drunk angle. That actually does give me some reassurance that he'd have some interesting character conflicts beyond just "he wheels and deals verbally with beasts of all types." So I will gladly give Sly a point for that one. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Airan.

I'll not comment on your speculations individually, though I won't negate them either. Sly could end up being many things in the contest - many good things! - but at least when I read the app, that's not where my mind wandered. I just wasn't enthralled with the character enough to begin speculating. I would debate that speculation doesn't equal having character. As an example, I speculated how Malukh could end up coming to grips with the reality of the Crater, and how he could end up being a really compelling character if he went that route. Makes sense with the app, but does the app itself promise that? Not really. It's just my presumption.

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Crater staff all wear blue uniforms,

Hmm... fair point. The app really should have somehow made that clear, as I don't think many readers would remember that small of a detail.

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Bechtel seems perfectly reasonable in the head, certainly not unhinged.

Emotionally unhinged, was more what I was getting at, not literally crazy. Sort of a "push the wrong buttons and he flips," thing. On a reread, though, seems like the justice angle is more likely. And you may have a point, Rascal, with the "wronged in the past" idea. Dunno. Wish the app built that up in some small way, rather than going all Holy Whiplash, Batman! Probably the one thing I seriously dislike about Bechtel.


I'm glad for the discussion, though! I want to see more of this kind of thing throughout the forums, especially with so many tough categories. People, you got a favorite that you like? Speak up! Got someone you're not so crazy about? Tell us why! Discussion is the nectar of a good writing board! ...or something?
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on June 30, 2017, 08:29:17 PM
Sssshhh Don't Tell Anyone, Mmkay?

:gashrock: --- Black Jasmine --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOdx8MTi1tU)

Hoo boy...

So this is incredibly well written. I can tell the author used great care in their word choices, and there is a ton of well-crafted sentence work here, all of it excellently building Jasmine and the rising situation. Things like "trembled in time with her chair skittering on the floorboard." or how the cookie she eyes/licks is a stoat, serving as foreshadowing for what's to come. Or, heck, even at the very beginning, with her saying she could make pillow puffs, and then... well, yeah, she does.
The structure of the scene is excellent. It's a slow build, and then when Jasmine "gives in" to her hunger, everything gets dialed up to 11. The writing reflects the shift in Jasmine in that way--the plodding, hesitant worry is gone, and now we're in a Saw set.
The little stutters in her dialogue as well are also fantastic. They're not really regular, and are a little strange, but occur just often enough for you to notice. Again, it's a way that the writing reflects what's going on here. So as far as craft, incredible work by the author. One of the sharpest apps in the contest.

But this goes too far. I literally felt sick after reading this. The gore is just so persistent, so viral, so visceral and it covers the entire second half of the app. I suppose my reaction is a testament to the writing. It's a horror story. I was horrified. And look, I get it, we're in a contest that's about gladiators and blood and people dying. Bad things are going to happen. Bad people are going to exist. But I can guarantee you the story will not simply be about bathing in wanton slaughter and butchery.
Now, I really don't think obsessing over such gore was the intent of Jasmine's author. There's obviously more to Jasmine's character, things that promise depth and conflict, with lines like "Chef Chuffy says I'm a whole lot of love with a little sick. Chef Chuffy says if beasts treated me-" or her covering her eyes when she sees the bodies (indicating sensitivity that obviously is gone and lost by the end). But I don't want to have to slog through this much gorish revelry to hope that maybe there's a reason to justify it.
It's not about what happens. It's not about writing a character who stoops to such evils. It's that I was that ferret guard, stumbling into a scene of such complete and utter violence. Too close. Too visceral. Too in-depth. I know there is no "official" rating that Zevka put for the contest, but on average we've always gone for a PG-13 rating. This went straight into R. We shouldn't ever have to go that far in these contests.

I'm hitting hard on the critique here, I realize that. I'm doing it, for one, because I know we have younger authors and readers on this board, but also because I just don't think this level of gore is at all necessary or appropriate. Understand that I have nothing against you, Jasmine's author. You are obviously an incredibly skilled wordsmith. So if you get in, I want to get a bead on what story you're trying to tell. Why this character? What story are they telling? Why is it important?
And in the meanwhile, tone down the gore. Survivors are known for their bloodshed, but you don't have to punch that hard in the description, especially in such dark acts (see the NPC Torin in MO:III for a good example of this). I can tell you know your way around a type-writer. Just exercise some restraint in how graphic it is. Heck, may even make it scarier, but in a way that's not quite as disturbing.

What I think will happen? Jasmine makes a few good friends, and comes to a crisis of identity. She's given in to this alter-ego (assumption), is losing herself to it, and needs the help of others to pull her out. The conflict is gripping and the struggle is fo' realz, yo, but it's a question of if the author can balance such heavy, dark concepts. Tilt too far one way, and I can see the audience reacting poorly (see: Scully and the torture scene in MO:III).

:gashrock: --- Thrayjen --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5STyU2Hn_E)

I needed this after Jasmine.

There's a really pleasant, homey quality to Thrayjen - and the writing - that just makes me smile. Yeah, the happiness he's in is doomed to fail, since we all know what's going to happen (and even without the Crater business, his whole secret is looming there in the shadows too), but for the scene itself, for the moment, I just kinda smiled and enjoyed the ride. It's really sweet. Has almost a Wind in the Willows vibe, with the dying fireplace embers and the tea-sipping and the book end table. And, really, I'm a total sucker for these kind of characters--baddies turned good.
I wonder how much of that story he's telling the dibbuns is just a story. It's clear he knows the workings of pirates, so that much isn't a surprise, but I have to wonder just how true-to-life this "Dread Pirate Blackwhiskers" actually is. We're not told a whole lot in the app, but what's here perks my interest to learn more.

Some odd moments. Thrayjen is totally into the story, and then once he - of his own volition - starts talking more about why exactly pirates are bad, suddenly he's fairly mopey, only murmuring back a "Good night." It's a minor thing, but the transition of things "getting real" in his head didn't quite connect with me.
Things only really get interesting - when it comes to the category swing - once Nan lets it out that she knows he buried something. There's only six lines dedicated to his revelation, and we only get a taste of what could possibly be going on. I wish there was a bit more here, more reactions from Thrayjen, or at least, more reactions that are meaningful. Beyond the information itself, it feels like the moment is played a bit safe, when some more juicy character opportunities could have been seized.

If you get in, Thrayjen's author, then I'd love to see how Thrayjen deals with the situation of being in the Crater. He seems to have a good heart, so mayhaps he'll end up becoming a sort of leader - moral or otherwise - for the cast. Completely personal taste thing, but please don't get all dark and dismal and gritty on me with Thrayjen. One of the things I enjoyed most about this app were those moments of genuine, simple joys. Even through the struggles and darkness of the Crater, don't lose that.

What I think will happen? Thrayjen has to struggle with doing acts he's long since sworn off, but he realizes that the beasts around him need a leader. Maybe it's not altruistic at first, maybe he doesn't even know why he's doing it, but he's able to step up to the plate. Trouble arises when whatever past he's trying to escape comes back to haunt him, and he realizes he needs to confront it there and then before he'll truly ever be free. Could see him going far. Top 3, if he plays his cards right.

:marten: --- Nokki Avaartin --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVb_ZcwqKmM)

I love the little touches throughout the piece that key us into Nokki's headspace. Like the table shaking because he's bouncing his knee nervously. I like how "crippled" and neurotic he is throughout the entire piece, and how it makes the change at the end punch hard. There's a clear feeling that Nokki isn't just dissatisfied with domesticated life, it's sucking the very life out of him, down to even minor quirks and habits. Those little bits of detail are wonderful, and tie excellently into Nokki's character.
The final exchange between Nokki and Ragschild is wonderful as well. Solid snap to the dialogue, and especially that "Yes. Exactly" which tells us a ton about Nokki. He's got too much self-respect to just be a family beast.

Some strange bits spring up here and there. He's fanatically focused on having no one recognize him, or being noticed, but it's made very clear both in the beginning and the end that no one gives him a second look. Sure, it may just be something only he is worried about, but... why? Maybe because he's afraid of being noticed by someone who would then tell his wife? Then why is he also so extremely uptight around Ragschild? And do people recognize him in the bar or not? If so, what's that even mean?
It's not that anything here is bad, it's just missing some pieces that connect it all together. Like, why does Ragschild jump up and shout out about Nokki? And why did the author include it? What is the purpose of it, since I don't really learn anything about Nokki because of it.
A few extra points off since I'm not really sure where at all the "Secret" is here. He's an old mercenary yearning for the rush of his old life, it seems. Could there be a secret he has? Sure, but I didn't get any vibe of one from the app.

If you get in, Nokki's author, then I'd like to see some expansion on what Nokki used to do, and what his story is. Why is he ditching his family, beyond just him yearning for the old days? Why should I care about him, if he seems to be exceedingly selfish? And what's he think about his situation/family once he's caught in the Crater? Does he recognize that he's made a mistake, or is he having the time of his life?

What I think will happen? Nokki hangs with fellow vermin cast members, and heck, maybe even knows one from "the old days." Despite his initial horror of the coliseum and regret of leaving his family, he begins to see the luxury of the Crater, and how he can actually feel alive here, and no one judges him for anything. He slowly begins to embrace it more and more, until eventually he's truly lost himself.

:weasel: --- Tooley's Verdict

Leaning hard to Thrayjen. He's the only one of the three who has a clear "secret" that he's hiding (at least from the audience). Nokki doesn't have a "secret" so much as a need for thrill in his life, that he's probably keeping a secret from his family. Jasmine has less of a secret and more a dark side. Yes, it does fit the category, but I'm more drawn towards the traditional intrigue with Thrayjen--he's hiding something, we get some vague clues, but it's yet to be seen what his secret even is. I want to find out, and I enjoyed his writing the most, so Thrayjen's got my vote.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 04, 2017, 10:43:51 AM
Beasts Who Like to Cut People for Their Own Good

:stoat: --- Jasper Hooklaw --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B28WegRHDX4)

I really enjoyed reading this. The pacing is fantastic, and this was just a fun scene to read. We're slapped right into the action, and so much of the action informs us of Jasper's character. There are a lot of good choices here on the part of the author. Like, take Balgar for example. I think a lot of author's would be tempted to just say "it was Balgar. Black ooze betrayed a gut wound..." They'd jump straight to the "he's injured and there's nothing to be done," but instead, the author plants us firmly in Jasper's mind. He sees a close acquaintance, runs over to help, but then his experience and knowledge as a medic takes over, and he realizes there's nothing to be done. That extra step means a lot, and it really helps to better engage the reader in the scene.
Excellent word choices too. "Arrows peppered the mud around them," "slicing just behind the beast’s lower jaw to sever vein and artery," etc. Love the bookends of this piece, also, with the arrows and Jasper hating them. It's a touch of color that's well applied to the character.

Matra's the one to usually call this out, but the passive language dotting the piece does hamper the engagement of the reader with the scene. "He had felt the pulse of a major artery," (when exactly? Better to just put it when he feels it, and give us that instant reaction of Jasper realizing "oh shoot, this needs to come out NOW"). "They had walked barely four steps when an arrow thudded..." (distances us from the moment. Could be better to just describe them walking away, then the lurch of the rat as an arrow thuds into his back.)
A minor thing, but the "war cry" from the otter feels out of place. I seem to remember war cries in Redwall - especially by goodbeasts - only ever being phrases. "Eulalia!" "Blood 'n Vinegar!" Etc. Betrays perhaps a lack of familiarity with the source material, but that's so minor that I'm not dinging any points off.

If you get in, Jasper's author, then keep up the good work. Jasper obviously has the capabilities of forming bonds with beasts around him (great for cast interaction), is also a capable warrior, and isn't a stranger to the violence of it all. I think his struggle will be coming to a point of being willing to fight for something even in the face of overwhelming odds. That otter who wants to kill his patient? No big deal, really. But an escape attempt/revolt in a heavily guarded garrison? That might require a lot more faith in overwhelming odds. Which is good. That breeds conflict for the character.

What I think will happen? Jasper does well in the arena, and given his disposition, even begins to work his way up the "chain of command" that's present. He wants to leave, but he'll struggle with whether or not he should do the right thing, when it'd be a heckuva lot easier to just rest on his laurels and reap the rewards of fighting in the arena (though that'd likely burn his medic's conscience, resorting to a life of murder). Depends on what direction the author wants to go, but whatever Jasper does will have huge impact on his fellow cast members--he strikes me as a shaker of the plot, not an observer.

:fox: --- Kentrith Hapley --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSRmQ-kM-HA)

As others have already mentioned, really risky move adding Nire in, and putting Kentrith that deep into the canon-workings of the plot. I think it paid off well, though. Probably more than any other app, I've been thinking a lot about how interesting Kentrith's story might be, and just how much he could bring to the table, being a beast that knows closely how the arena works. He's ripe for all sorts of interesting cast relations (could be a mentor type, could be a rebel plotting escape, could act as a bridge between the cast and the larger story to be discovered, etc), and also would be an excellent source of worldbuiling.
I'd be remiss to not mention how much I enjoyed the writing. There is a truckload of details dotting every paragraph. From the "arterial spray" in the beginning, to the "inferior suture material," to the nice contrast of this sentence: "froze with the blade of his knife submerged in boiling water." I have a very clear picture of all the details present in the scene, and it really draws me right into the action.

Despite my praise of the writing, there is some oddities that prevent me from really getting sucked in. In the first paragraph, after describing the hare he's working on, there's this sentence: "The black-tipped ears twitched in irritation." The black-tipped ears? Whose? I'm positive it's Kentrith's, but it's an odd choice that stutters the pace of reading. Likewise, I'm not a fan of describing people's motivations or morality via adverbs. See: "The lynx leered evilly." The words are evil enough. We really don't need this breadcrumb to make sure the audience gets that, yes, Nire is not a nice dude. I love the details work of the app, just maybe with another round of polish to clean up these odd bits.
Also, and honestly more important, I think this app does more to build up Nire/the arena than it does Kentrith. Everything I said about how he'd be really interesting to see in the story? It's all true, but none of it is really based on Kentrith as a person. I'm interested because he's a veteran and he's been in the arena for a while, not because his personality is compelling or his own story is necessarily interesting. There's the bit about his youth/mother, but I'm not entirely sure what to take from it besides "he misses better days." I understand what the author was getting at, and I appreciate them showing that there's more to Kentrith than just his gruff exterior, but that bit of backstory could have been handled more smoothly.

If you get in, Kentrith's author, then understand that right from the start, you will be a valuable character. Of all the apps, Kentrith knows most about Nire and the workings of the Crater. That alone would likely keep you until Round 3 or so. Do not coast off of that. Because it will get old, and you will get voted off. Build Kentrith's own, personal story. Let us root for him and be interested in his story. You seem to have an idea for Kentrith's backstory and why he's in the arena in the first place. Good. Make use of that. These contests punish the lazy, so be sure every week to keep building an engaging story around Kentrith's character, and you'll be fine.

What I think will happen? Kentrith is an amazing source of worldbuilding for the cast and readers, and is also a dang compelling character. ...for the first few weeks. But, MO:III Ciera-syndrome strikes, and his own personal story in the moment just falters under the weight of more compelling castmates. His death post is dang awesome, though, and serves as a catalyst for the surviving few.
i love you ciera don't hate me

:poko: --- Maeve --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEWjBDUbghU)

There's a lot grounding this app. Right from the start, that compress with the fungus and millipedes just sent my skin shivering, and though I'm not sure if that's a proper medieval healing technique, I'm going to believe the author's knows their business. Point being, it's real, and raw, and makes more "Redwall" sense to me than, say, Kentrith's surgical prowess.
The dialogue between the sisters as well was fun to read. It's sharp, snappy, to the point, and you clearly get a sense that these two know each other. In particular I liked the "Quiet" bit. Good transition there into the latter half of the app.

Others have mentioned it, and it's true. I don't believe for a second the feats performed in this app. Maeve getting struck by multiple arrows, carrying her sister, and outrunning hares? Sorry, no way, no how. Problem is that I really love the scene idea of a healer having to guide unprofessional paws to heal them, and I wonder how much stronger the app would have been had it focused primarily on that, but as it stands, suspension of disbelief lies on the floor in shattered pieces.
There are also some odd word choices throughout the app. "The linen ribbons about Maeve's wrists quivered" - linen ribbons? Eh? "She's gone for good and you're. You're." - The period is weird. Is this supposed to be Rilla trailing off? "then their sprint became more a gallop." - by the dictionary definition, a gallop is actually the fastest pace of a quadruped. And etc.

If you get in, Maeve's author, then you'll have to figure out what makes her character and quest compelling from a week-to-week basis. If all she has to strive for is finding her mother/sister outside of the Crater, and the Crater is basically nothing more than a forced pitstop on the way over, then I worry she won't last long. I love the balance thing, though. I didn't notice the silver/sable duality until I saw Vizon's avatar, and I love your use of theme throughout the app. Look to that to inform meaningful interactions with the rest of the cast.

What I think will happen? Maeve, as part of her character arc, will have a hard time forming bonds with the cast. It's a risky play, but pays off, as her personal quest can now be related to the quests of those around her. Her balance shtick is engaging, but the story ends up taking a turn that dwarfs her more narrow goals, and she struggles to catch up.

:weasel: --- Tooley's Verdict

Maeve is good, but I just find myself so much more interested in Jasper and Kentrith. And between those two, I'll be honest that I have no idea who I prefer. I like Jasper's character better, and his app was such fun to read, but Kentrith promises such potential in regards to developing the world. Every time I think I prefer one, I think of a reason to shift back to the other.
I think my choice will ultimately be decided by who I'm voting for in all the other categories. If I feel Jasper fills more of a void, I'll pick him. If Kentrith, then him.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 04, 2017, 11:07:45 PM
Love Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

:weasel: --- Ander --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghdWA_jRHGg)

This first half of this app really shines, with some lovely character-focused scenework. The starting line, the Dummy/Dimmy bit, and I love him clinking his goblet against his reflection. Ander's an easy personality to get a grip on, but we get such a clear picture of him right off that bat, which works well for this type of character. Get the brass tacks of the personality down quick to move on to more important scenes that use that personality to tell a story.
And this line: "The poker-faced rat captain extended a paw and Ander shook it for all he was worth." This is glorious. It's a perfect example of bringing back to mind that which was foreshadowed (the poisoned daggertip) without being obvious or flippant. Of course Ander is shaking it for all he's worth--he's wanting to make sure that dagger is making contact! The line later on about the poison working does counteract this excellent bit, but I'll let that slide. Others have already commented on it.

The last fourth of the app is very rushed. He jumps up, declares victory, then he's running, then he's begging for mercy, then he's getting captured. These all basically happen within a sentence of one another. It's not so much what happens, but how it happens. By having Ander run, you're implying a journey, which takes time. But that is all of one sentence, and then he trips and we're immediately jumping into dialogue. A bit of whiplash, running from one moment to the next. Probably better to just have one of the pirates step forward and grab him/punch him to the ground. Keeps things in the same "stage" where the scene is taking place.
Some odd bits throughout the story that made it hard for me to track what exactly was going on. Take this line once he steps out: "and were proving easy targets for the pirates, whom already thought they had won." With "proving easy targets," it makes it sound like they're being killed, especially with the followup of the pirates thinking they won. Or this part: "He glanced up at his adversary while he freed his sword.[...]Ander panted; surprised at the exertion it took to finally wrench his rapier free." I thought he'd already freed his sword, so the whole bit of the vermin laughing at him was a bit odd, and odder still when suddenly he was still pulling it free.

If you get in, Ander's author, then realize you're up against a mighty big challenge. There's nothing to empathize with Ander about, at least as shown in this app. He's a cheat, a narcissist, a coward, and he cares about no one else. Now, we don't need to like Ander, but we absolutely must empathize with him. We need to understand where he's coming from, even if it means he's not that great of a guy. Give us that picture of Ander, so that we can root for this jerkwad as much as he roots for himself.

What I think will happen? Reality check in aisle nine. Ander is smacked hard with a dose of truth when he has no one to order around, and certainly no one is threatened by him. He becomes some beast's toady, and we see him slightly humbled and beaten down, but he slowly festers resentment, until one night he shivs his "master" and decides he won't take it anymore. How far he gets from there? No idea.

:fox: --- Blu --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aioRy5egM1U)

Let's start at the end, because that moment was dang awesome. Give this lady a guitar riff and some 80's movie pyrotechnic explosions to boot. I loved how the garden tools tied into the end--Blu has limited resources, so she has to use what's around her to make it work. In this case, the choice of garden tool accentuates the moment--it's rough, not really meant for that purpose, but it will turn deadly if you finally step too far. A perfect reflection of Blu's own character. Also appreciated were the little animal touches throughout the app. Her snarling reflexively, or her "barking" a warning. The actions themselves are nothing special, but kudos to the author for choosing to take the path less traveled and bring a touch more spice to their character.
The app is firmly devoted to tone, and throughout the entire piece we get a clear sense of what Blu is feeling. I appreciate the little moments that break away from it, though. Like the description of how each of the kids are handling the journey, and what they do. It's nothing simple as "Moira's shoulders sagged and her pace lessened." Nah, she starts sucking on the ear of her doll. It's such a small little detail, but it helps give life to the moment.

But I do think there is too much of a focus on sympathy in this app. She's in the stocks. She's beaten and bruised. Her landlady is kicking her out. Her belongings are tossed out. She's on the road. Robbers show up. This isn't the first time they've robbed from her. Etc. Yes, it is sad to read, but that's because the situation itself is so easy to feel sad about. And every single detail of the app - from the scenes chosen, to the NPCs used - is only to accentuate this one single facet of Blu's character: that we're supposed to feel sad for her.
But I don't want to just feel sad for her. I want to know why these things are happening, and what she's going to do about it. Unfortunately, we don't see her make a meaningful choice (as far as developing her character) until the very end. "But, Tooley, what about when she decides to leave the village behind? That's a big choice." It's a big moment, but not a big choice, because what else could she possibly do? It's simply the flow of water at that point--of course it will flow downstream. And even with that final scene, while it is sharply executed, I'm still not impressed by the choice. What mother wouldn't fight for her kids? Furthermore, before that great moment, the scene mostly further points out just how passive Blu's character is. She's been robbed before, let it happen, and even at the end lets them rummage through her things until they go for her kids. Her kids are ultimately her only defining feature, because without them, I don't feel like I know a whole lot about Blu. As an example, if her children weren't a factor, what would she do in the Crater? From the app, I expect she'd just stand by and take it.

If you get in, Blu's author, then I want to learn more about her. You're a capable author with a strong grasp of tone, but I really want to learn more about Blu. I want to see what she'll actually do in difficult situations, and what defines her outside of her children. Her children obviously meanthe world to her, but her children aren't the app--Blu is. I have some hope, though! It's implied that she did try and steal to pay off her rent, so she is at least capable of wild actions, so I want to see more of that. A lost, angry mother having to figure things out one step at a time.

What I think will happen? Blu's key motivation of her children is compelling in the beginning, but it's clear that she needs something more to grip onto. Whatever the thrust of the plot is, she ends up weaving her way into it, though a little bit roughly, yet this gives her a driving purpose to lead her further into the story. Whether this compels the audience depends on how well she executes these new character arcs.

:otter: --- Minerva --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZwsghFiB0A)

I appreciate the balance present in this app. The scene with the weasel is chilling, but it's all in service of Minerva as a character--exactly what I wanted out of something like Black Jasmine. From the start, with how close she puts herself to the weasel by picking up the chair, to wiping his snout, to her story and threat--every bit of discomfort and unease informs us just what Minerva is like, and what she's capable of. Which is a lot. The second half of this app shines in particular. We get so much just from her cleaning the blood off that fishhook--both in knowing just what type of brutality occurred off-screen, but then also what the hook itself means to her. That she is a beast of nostalgia, at least in some regard.
The bit with Fable is also really nice, and serves as an excellent bit of promise that there's more to Minerva. Does she go overboard in her protection of Fable? 'Course, but we get all the nuggets and hints of why, from her scarred paws at the very beginning of the app, to her caressing the fishhook and muttering to herself about scary dreams. It's clear to us that those nightmares she's talking about to Fable have indeed come true before, and whatever happened has led her to this point of violence and uncompromising defense.

There were some bits that confused me, with the whole deal with the husband being the most notable one. He's an oaf, then she's regarding his gift fondly, then there's a "question" he asked her (marriage proposal?), and we don't even know if he's dead or not? I have guesses to answer all of these, but that's all they are--guesses. And, as a small aside, I didn't get that the weasel had fallen over until Minerva goes to pick it up, so the author needs to keep an eye out for those details that prevent the audience from picturing the scene clearly.
One of the twists of the app - that she kills him anyway - was expected. it was clear from her wording what was going to happen, and while them being strung up as warning to future trespassers was nice, I wanted to note that some moments were a bit more on-the-nose than the excellent tonal work in play throughout the app.

If you get in, Minerva's author, then I want some answers to what exactly has brought Minerva to this point. I have no question of her capability to fight in the ring, but I want to know the why, lest she just becomes a vengeful, bloodthirsty beast. From the bits we see in the app, I'm confident there is a lot more to Minerva, just don't neglect to show those details and take us for a ride. You play your cards right, and I can see you getting far.

What I think will happen? Minerva haaaates the vermin she's forced to fight against (and alongside). But she hates Nire even more, as no doubt Fable is somehow caught up in all this. Some of those walls come down, and we'll get to see her learn a think or two about what vermin are actually like. But some of those walls will also be further fortified, as her knowledge of the evils of beasts is reaffirmed--by vermin, as well as woodlanders.

:weasel: --- Tooley's Verdict

Minerva all the way on this one. Ander is nice, but I don't find myself interested in his story. While Blu's writing is solid and the character is heartrending, the heavy focus on pitying her lost me. Minerva strikes just the right balance of someone who seems to be genuinely motivated by love, but also is a significant and dangerous threat. She'll be a force to be reckoned with in the arena, and there's enough in the app to give me hope that she has a lot of room to grow. Very much want to see where her story goes.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 06, 2017, 06:45:33 PM
Don't have a whole lot of time before Sunday, so gonna try and get the rest out fast as I can.

Made in Mossflowertm

:stoat: --- Aldridge Moor --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnP2_iwn42Q)

This was beautiful. It has such a homespun feel to it, which ties so wonderfully into the theme of Aldridge's character. There's a sense of "belonging" and peace that runs through the whole thing. Seriously, literally every single paragraph has some tender detail or touch of color that just wraps us into the world--wind of the birds, memory of him cutting his paw, the phrase defining Aera, habits from times gone by, yew for the young one to better use, bluebells, etc. Nowhere in this app is anything as simple as "the sky was blue. There were clouds." The author describes the world and characters with such vibrant care, and it's not simply for poetic merit either, since so many of the details are also character-fortifying. There's just so much color and detail and life to this app and GUHHH I LOVE IT.
As for Aldridge himself, I like how he's a character who already has what he wants. Seems almost like a bad thing, since he seemingly doesn't have a quest to pursue, right? Except we all know that one way or another, this is all going to pot, and he's about to lose everything. I am fascinated to see exactly he'll react to it all. I don't necessarily think that he has some dark past, like Thrayjen, but he strikes me more as a beast who's fighting for the bigger picture. For larger concepts than just "survive." Then again, I wonder how his desire to be "needed" or "belong" will play out in the arena. Could be that he's tempted to "belong" to the wrong sorts of people.

Tons have mentioned the first person/present-tense perspective, and I'll just repeat it super fast here. I'm not docking any points at all for it, since no tense was dictated for the apps, but it is something to note.
The initial conversation between Aldridge and Aera really threw me off.
Quote
Shall I bring her tomorrow? Oh! Smoked fish and pea soup and bread, by the way!”

I sniff at the air. “And Brack’s got to the pepper again? Any time tomorrow, I’m not going out for more wood for a few days yet.”

She chuckles. “He’s only allowed to do that to his own bowl now, don’t worry.”
Bit off a little bit more than should have been chewed, as the flow of him responding to two different points, and then Aera responding to his first comment just doesn't flow at all. It's probably the one major flaw to this app, and that's something that would easily be picked up on by peer review, should you make it into the contest itself.

If you get in, Aldridge's author, then realize that while I absolutely adore your writing - and you should be extremely proud of this piece - you need to give Aldridge a compelling quest/journey/arc once he's actually in the Crater. You have an excellent handle over NPCs and using them to bolster your character. That's great, but don't do that in the contest itself. At least, not exclusively. Have Aldridge make meaningful bonds and moments of strife with his fellow castmates. Play off of one another, and you'll do just fine.

What I think will happen? Aldridge gets in, and takes the horrors of the Crater surprisingly well. What he doesn't take well, however, is seeing some of the people he loves get slaughtered. Standing by isn't an option, so he dives headfirst into this new, horrible world he's found himself into, in hopes of saving the few friends he still has. He struggles with losing himself in the darkness of the Crater, however, and will need the help of some new friends to keep his head above the metaphorical water.

:mole: --- Strathcomb Piccadilly --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpRkEnYMmCQ)

Strathcomb is not a hare?! Call me astonished and slap a dunce cap on me 'ead! I bet you had a laugh seeing all of us be so sure that Strath was a hare. Well played.

Another really, really good bit of writing. From the start, huge props on the glorious mole accent. This struck the perfect balance of dialect and readability, but more than that, you got the heart and feel of mole culture down. The sort of "simple beasts who take joy in their work, so long as they're treated fair 'n square, burr aye." The conversation between Strath and his fellow moles in the beginning is an excellent representation of this. It's simple, tinged with good-hearted humor, and perfectly shows us just what sort of beasts Strathcomb is.
I also like how we see exactly how much of a leader Strathcomb is. He has every reason to just shrug his shoulders and move on, but he is a ~beast o' th' common folk~ and he'll stick by them through thick'n'thin'n'deeper'n'ever. Why does this matter? Because it tells us exactly what kind of beast he'll be in the Crater. The really interesting part comes when one asks how he'll act around vermin, or if he'll be even willing to kill other beasts in the arena. Maybe Nire has something planned for when that happens, since surely holier-than-thou woodlanders is common.
Finally, props on the setting of the scene itself. While a mine for moles isn't necessarily surprising, it works wonderfully to show Strath in his natural habitat, and I enjoyed the touches of creativity with the railings and Urthrow's office overlooking all the moles.

A little too much on Strath's side of the ring. He's taller than any of the moles. He's an inventor. He's a smith. He's humble (takes criticism of his product without skipping a beat). He's a leader to the moles, and respected by every other beast. There's... not a whole lot that Strathcomb isn't. I'm not saying he should have some dark secret, but surely he's not good at something. One might say he'll probably have poor eyesight in the sun, which is true, but I'd like to see more character/personality-based flaws.
The scene itself doesn't quite feel... natural, either. Strath just so happens to be showing off his new invention when the overseer comes in and everything follows. It's not at all egregious, but on my following reads, I could more pick up on the "author's hand" showing in how the scene was constructed.

If you get in, Strathcomb's author, then give us some faults in Strath's character. He's a bit too "perfect" right now, so I want to see what he struggles with. The arena, luckily, is the perfect place for this! I'm realy interested in how he'd act around vermin, so make good use of the opportunities for cast relations with your castmates. Don't just have Strath form connections with the "easy" choices. Dig deep, get Strath out of his comfort zone, and see where it goes.

What I think will happen? Strath is a natural leader, and despite the horrors and vermin around him, he realizes that they need to make an escape. A Great Escape. Problem for this diggin' mole? Nire broke his digging claws when he came in, so he needs to rely on other beasts to watch for guards, steal tools, and dig their way to freedom. It's a race against the clock, and Strath isn't sure how much longer he can withstand the strain upon his morals with the bloody battles in the arena.

:weasel: --- Tooley's Verdict

These are both exceptionally good apps. A joy to read them both, truly, but I have to go with Aldridge. The writing is such a joy to read, and his character just appeals to me more than Strathcomb. That is no slight upon Strath, though, as I fully expect the vote to be tight between these two. Whoever doesn't get in, you did fantastic job. If either of you are new, I truly hope you'll stick around, because I would love to see more of your writing.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 09, 2017, 07:10:24 PM
Not gonna be able to get these reviews all done before the vote, but I know how much it stinks to be left out from a review spread, so rest assured, dear readers, that I will get to the last three categories over the next week.

In the meanwhile, though, I have some promises to keep as far as reviews go, so I'm gonna finish those before I get to the rest of these. Stay tuned, folks!
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 19, 2017, 07:25:56 PM
THE WEASEL STILL LIVES

I will be reviewing the story, but I promised to finish my app reviews, so we're gonna do that first. Pirate's Honor an' all.

Beasts Who Shoulda Taken That Left Turn at Albuquerque

:nyika: --- Jarl --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ij0eebp1zw)

A wildcat! Hooray!

This was a fun read, with a ton of character in it. I genuinely laughed at several parts. The poor souls getting run over in retreat, Jarl casting off the blame on someone on the tavern, and then the whole warrior spirit to flee thing. While the setting is a bit old-hat (tavern), the color of Jarl and the writing used to express him is very enjoyable to read. Also, I don't know entirely if it was intended, but this line made me chuckle:
Quote
a classier type of vermin. More fur clothing, less decretive skulls.
Fur clothing in a world of animals probably indicates more barbarism, though perhaps a little less than skull-wearing.
Also some good wordplay. I love the bit when the wolverine enters the room. "...until Jarl realizes that he is not staring out into the night but at one massive beast" is an excellent bit of writing. You instantly feel the imposing nature of this wolverine without having to rely on adjectives and adverbs out the wazoo. Very nice.

There's a lot of messiness when it comes to the SPAG in this app. Incorrect dialogue tags, improper paragraph spacing, misspells, swapping between past and present tense, etc. I can see that efforts were made to perform the correct rules of writing (commas at the end of dialogue, paragraph spacing, etc.), but sometimes they just weren't quite right. Peer review would help with a lot of this, so that you can hear concrete reasons why some things aren't right.
It's been mentioned by others, but the tattoos/fat joke part did confuse me. From the way it's written, it sounds like his comment is an exasperated mutter, like "oh, sure, I guess we'll do even more of these jokes," rather than a "oh, we can go back to those, since I'd rather not talk about my tattoos."

You didn't get in, Jarl's author, but if you did, I think he could have had a really fun story to tell. There's intrigue with his tattoos and the banishment, and also you see that he seems to have a desire to be a warrior. While a messy place to learn, his survival and growth in the arena would have been a lot of fun, especially since Jarl is a genuinely fun character to read. Try to tighten up those SPAG mistakes in the future, and maybe look at setting your apps in some more varied and interesting locations, but your character work is on point.

What I think would have happened? Jarl is the darling dark horse of the story. Really rough start, but he survives Round One, and a combination of intriguing backstory and classic underdog story ends up earning him a loyal fanbase. Turns out, he has a rather interesting history, and his journey to become a warrior not only in body, but in spirit, is a very compelling one.

:weasel: --- Komi Banton--- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPPWbbYRvJI)

First thing's first, I love the song. The vermin viewpoint and spin on Redwall - typically a beacon of hope - is wonderful, but it's not just a throwaway shtick, because it ties directly into Komi's character and her history. And this leads me right into another point, which is how much I appreciate the full sight we get of Komi. The scene feels "lived in," like the pieces are all actually there and are playing out naturally, rather than being strung together because "well, it's a story. They need to happen like that." Much of this is because of the details you carefully add, from big to small. Her singing, her going to get a bowl, the crowd being so thick because of a nearby horde, this fact kicking her out from her arranged room, her coat still thick enough to keep her warm, etc. These are absolutely wonderful, and made the piece such a joy to read.
Also, props for the fight scene. It's snappy, it's forceful, it's cool. Fight scenes are very difficult to write, as by nature, reading is a slower and more thoughtful act, while action scenes are very visual and visceral. Here, though, no such problem exists. You straddle the line between being leaving enough details to the imagination, and choosing strong words and visuals to express what's happening. Check out this one:
Quote
...in time to duck forward under the next sword stroke. The second rat gasped as she opened him from hip to neck, then shoved him back.
No time is wasted telling us "and she stabbed him. With a knife. Using her paw." Nah, we get the important action of her ducking forward under his sword strike, which is an action of momentum, and then we cut straight to her slicing him up. Works wonderfully.

Some speedbumps dot the piece. See:
Quote
The weasel spoke to the rats with him. “Ever tell you...
First off, point dinged for lack of comma. Second off, it really could just be simplified to "The weasel turned to his companions." You don't really need to say he's speaking to them when you immediately follow it with dialogue, just make it clear that the dialogue is directed towards them.
A minor niggle, but I also don't think you need the line directly following the song, about her seeing the walls and it having it right. We already know she has disdain for the song, and we understand later in the app that she participated in a fight against Redwall, so better to hold onto that detail rather than just drop it so quickly.

You got in, Komi's author. Hooray! Number one: don't ditch those songs. Komi works because there is more to her character than just a single aspect (just a minstrel, just a former captain, just a runaway, etc.). Keep those facets of her character alive, have them inform her interactions with the other cast. And finally, you're going to need to give her some sort of goal to strive for. She's clearly not a coward, and whatever her reason for ditching Redwall, it was a wise one. Her story doesn't have to tie to that directly, but my point is that Komi is not a reactive character. She's sharp-eyed and can see how future events are shaping up, and makes a decision based on those. I want to see how that plays out in the Crater. How does she act there, and what drives her beyond "survive"?

Tooley's Brutally Honest Expectation: Komi's awesome, has a lot of solid cast interaction, but despite efforts being made, her involvement in the story is a little bit weak. She's a bright spot moving across a canvas, rather than being a permanent brushstroke in the painting itself. She might make it to the Top 3. Depends on how she plays her cards. Biggest recommendation? Never settle for being reactive. Drive the story forward, Komi.

:fox: --- Diamond--- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHb6sza5mZs)

Laughed many times in this app. The bit about Globby falling down is a wonderful moment of dry humor, the "choked on his rapier" and following lines, etc. Some fell more flat than others, but when the humor connected, it connected in earnest. Well done.
Loved the thematic ties as well. The very first lines tell us about the whole "expectations" thing, and throughout the whole app, this is reinforced. In obvious ways, like Diamond not being what the audience expects, but also in smaller ways, like how Diamond expects Valentine to say no. Furthermore, look at how those first lines are written. It's not the stiff, stodgy voice of a narrator saying "Expectations are a funny thing. Yadda yadda stuff stuff." Naw, it's tied into the setting and the character. How it's a rule of performance. It's an excellent way to get across larger-scale, thematic arcs without being patronizing about it. Related to the theme, props for the unconventional character and choice.

Took me a bit to figure out what was going on. When I first started reading it, I checked twice to see if Valentine was supposed to be the main character. Checked the name, kept reading... then I checked the species, and kept reading. Diamond didn't have to be front and center, but it would have been good to just set us in her POV early on. "Diamond watched from beside the stage wagon as Globby was carted away." Summat like that.
I do think the end is a bit drawn out. A whole 130 words are spent after Diamond's "reveal," and nothing more is really communicated about her character. She does her routine, does it a bit more, audience continues to react, and then she ends it. It lacks a punch to really stick in the reader's mind.
My biggest point, which is related to the two, is that I wasn't entirely sold on her character. She has three lines in the app, and each of them just sort of fit the situation without showing us much about her (beyond that she's hesitant and hopeful). Attention should have been shifted away from Valentine and the lengthy ending to give Diamond more of a chance to express her character through actions, reactions, and dialogue.

You didn't get in, Diamond's author, but if you did, I definitely think there was a lot here to explore. Her desire for a crowd's approval fits perfectly into a coliseum, especially with her dream centered around physical prowess. I wasn't taken by her character, but I love the ideas present, and congratulate you on thinking so far out of the box. A very fun, well-executed app, just missing some character-focused spark.

What I think would have happened? Diamond would swing in either one of two directions, and she'd swing hard. Either she'd be horrified by the arena, and realize that she needs to be a leader and icon for the slaves around her, or she'd develop a connection with the audience, and give them exactly what they want. Either would have been very compelling stories.

:weasel: --- Tooley's Verdict

I voted for Komi. Diamond was very creative, and Jarl was fun, but I just was so drawn to Komi's writing and character. You can say it just fit my tastes more, but I just really loved the app, and am very excited to see her in the story itself.


Speaking of which, I've not yet read any posts on the story. Saving that for when I begin my reviews. I'm going to try and get these all done by tomorrow, but don't hold your breath.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 19, 2017, 09:00:57 PM
WHOA TWO IN A ROW???

Beasts Who Maybe Need to Get a Doctor's Opinion. In a Straight Jacket

:snek: --- Azalea --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4TVVmWwYo0)

Others have mentioned this, but having Roe as your POV character was a brilliant decision. Why? Because as he learns about Azalea, so do we. When he's uncertain if she'll let him go, we too share the exact same feeling. By connecting us to him, we get a very sharp experience of who Azalea is. Likewise, it was smart to kill off Roe, lest people end up saying "hey, I like Roe more than Azalea!" Roe is a tool to be used for the benefit of Azalea, not to the point of overshadowing her. (Post app-phase note, keep that in mind, Top 10. Your NPC's should never overtake your character.)
Azalea herself is fun. The boop was an odd choice, but jarring enough to fit the scene, and it keys us immediately into her playful nature. I also like the touches you added to her speech. "Azalea is Whiptail," or how she refers to him as just "marten." It adds an exotic, "other" flair to her that accentuates the fact that not everything is quite on the level with this beast.
Brief props as well for the choice of scene. This ties into my earlier comment about Roe, but the location itself was an excellent one. It's different, engaging, there's a clear reason why Roe would be there, and it makes perfect sense why Azalea is there. Me likey.

I never quite got a handle on what Azalea's speech pattern was. She has a harsh sibilance for some "S's, but not others. I can understand why writing out "ssss" every single time there's a S would be ridiculous, and annoying to read, but the dialect lacks unity. And why are some other parts of words stretched out, like "faaaaiiiil"? Is that just to indicate her stretching the word out, or is it a dialect thing?
More importantly, Azalea's dialogue whiplashes between two different tones. One the one hand, you have a more reserved approach with some semi-broken English, then suddenly she goes into an almost valley girl speech. Consider these two lines:
Quote
“Why does the little marten thing sshiver and fret sso? Are you afraid?”
and
“But if you faaaaiiiil, I’m gonna snap your spine like a twig, M’kay?"
Look at how the dialogue is structured. In the first, it's this removed, almost theatrical pattern. It's not "Why are you shivering like that?" Then we jump to saying "gonna" and "M'kay." There's nothing wrong with Azalea talking in either way, but the two don't mesh well, especially without an explanation or reason for the change.

You didn't get in, Azalea's author, but if you did, I definitely would have liked to have seen a clearer voice for Azalea. The pieces are all there for something really fun and interesting, but they just don't connect here in the app. She would have been a really cool force to be reckoned with in the arena, though, and her interactions with the cast as well would have been very fun to read.

What I think would have happened? It's a question of if Nire considers her more beastly than "beast." I could see him throwing her into the pens with the boars, and being a rather odd creature, she may even find a way to make use of that "intelligence" they seem to have, that other beasts can't quite understand. Perhaps she inspires them to revolt against their captors, and becomes Slither Queen of the Tusk-Hooves?

:squirrel: --- Leota Nettlekin --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HbzVrb83gA)

Really enjoyed the colorful descriptions in this one. Nothing is simple in this piece. The wildcat has brass buttons, the hallway has deteriorating brick walls, all the crazy beasts they pass are varied and vivid, all the various bone furniture, etc. And it's just the right amount of unsettling without being schlocky. "But Tooley, why are you okay with this cannibal and not Black Jasmine?" Well, for one, it's not about the role a beast fills, but how it's described. Look at how Leota's author handles the horrific throughout the post. Pelt carpets, skull chair, ribcage bookshelves, etc. It's a slow build. Something isn't right, then we see more and more what type of beast Leota is. The tone and setting is firmly established, so when the most gruesome bit of the whole thing comes - "Half a stoat sat in the corner. The blood was fresh." - it succeeds in delivering its punch in a very simple, subdued way.
Leota's character as well was just the right blend of mysterious and intriguing. I want to know how she accomplished everything in that room - killing a badger, finding victims when placed in a a cell (were they all just funneled to her?), manufacturing the various instruments she has (what's the tea?), etc. An enjoyable read, for sure.

On the flipside, I wish I knew a little bit more about what Leota wants. Jumping back to Jasmine, what worked about that character is understanding the struggle and arc she was going to go through--of having to resist succumbing to the "monster." With Leota, I know that she's a (somehow) very capable, dangerous old squirrel who's a hardened survivor. She's got a family that she cares about, but I'm not sure what all of this really means for her. Maybe an aside comment from her about how her family tossed her in here, or she mentions to the rat that he looks just like some pirate she knew a long time ago, etc. Something to give us more than a vague idea of her history, or what she wants, or what her story will be about.
A few bits drew me out from fully believing the scene. See this line of dialogue:
Quote
“Oh, I’m so sorry! It must have been a long journey for you dears. Have you eaten?”

“Ain’t hadda bite all day,” the rat grumbled in his master’s hearing.
This is following every bit of horror described in the room, and yet the rat honestly answers? I'm sure his appetite would long be gone, especially after already being revolted by the badger skull. He does react later, when she offers to cook up the stoat, but I think the moment could have been restructured. Like having the stoat be brought out only after the rat mentions his hunger.

You didn't get in, Leota's author, but if you did, I definitely would have wanted to see what story exactly you were aiming to tell with Leota. She's got a clear personality and certainly is interesting, but would have needed a worthwhile quest to survive long in the competition.

What I think would have happened? Leota ends up becoming a very strange "mother" to the cast. Some beasts take to this well, since support is needed in the Crater, but conflict would soon arise once they learn about her... quirks. Maybe her real family all died, and so she takes up the cast as a sort of replacement, not willing to have things end up with her in a retirement home, all alone once again.

:hare: --- Kentigern MacRaff --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsmUM57U0tI)

Huge props on tackling a Highland accent. I know a lot of people say mole is hard, but I honestly think Highland is harder. It's much, much easier to end up sounding stupid, and for the most part, it works excellently here. I also enjoy how it provides a contrast between Kentigern and his wife. Without being specifically brought up, you can feel the divide that lays between those two.
And with that in mind, I like the conflict of duty vs. family as a storyarc. Kentigern isn't exactly a relatable beast, what with him ditching his family for a fool's errand, but the conflict is very intriguing. I'm curious to see what will happen once he's confronted with the Crater and sees for himself how both woodlanders and vermin are being treated.

Some of the description gets a little bit unwieldy. See:
Quote
...gaze simultaneously obdurate like the granite face of a mountain and piercing like twin daggers boring accusatorially into his skull.
It's not just that heavy words are utilized (obdurate), but that it's also coupled with two fairly long visual metaphors that feel a bit overblown. Shorter and sharper is often the way to go, especially as Bonnie's bite is made clear through her dialogue, so you don't need to talk about her eyes stabbing him. Her voice is already doing that.
While I love how you do the accent for the most part, I'd look at mixing up your structure so that it doesn't become unwelcome. A bit too many "ken"s for my taste. Especially on this part: "They deserve this. Ah ken y’ken, tae." Just a bit too much to chew through, y'ken?

One final criticism, adding this because you're in the competition and I think you should watch out for it. Be careful not to tell so much in your dialogue tags. Your dialogue is very strong, and paints a clear picture on its own. I know it's very hard to leave things "unsaid" or "unclear," but a lot of the details here end up ultimately distracting from the scene and weakening the writing. As some examples:
Quote
...his wife stood with her paws perched irately on her hips. - Body language tells us enough. Cut irately.

Her voice became tinged with a pleading note. - Unnecessary. Let us feel the flow of the scene through the dialogue (which is accomplished), not through hard inserts like this.

He paused, eyes flaming like Hellgates. - Overblown imagery. Unnecessary. I'd cut.

She futilely shook her head in frustration. - "She shook her head." Sweep up the unnecessary details. We don't know it's futile yet, so let us live in the moment with the characters.
In the future, looks particularly closely at these dialogue tags that you do, and the actions the characters perform. 90% of the time, I'd cut out any adverbs you have. If an action doesn't add to the point already being communicated by the dialogue, cut it.

You got it, Kentigern's author. Hooray! Watch out for the stylistic concerns I listed above, and be careful to give us a reason to root for Kentigern. Not many people are going to be sympathetic with a brash crusade against all vermin, so there must be some sort of empathetic quality that the audience can cling to or he won't last long. I'd look at focusing on that family/duty conflict and seeing how it can be translated into cast relationships around him. Are there other beasts who understand the whole duty thing (Kentrith? Minerva?) or the family angle (Aldridge? Silas? Thrayjen?)? Form compelling bonds with the cast to soften Kentigern up and have him realize he can't just paint the world in the palette of his choosing.

Tooley's Brutally Honest Expectation: Kentigern comes in swinging. His first post does little to endear the readers to him, but it does give him a slap of REALITY to the face. Luckily, the first round lasts two weeks, and his second post gives us a look into what is really driving him, and has him coming to grips that he can't be Mr. Braw Justice. From there, he learns about humility, unity, and brotherhood across species lines. He doesn't survive, but he goes out like a boss. Makes a few readers even hold back some tears.

:weasel: --- Tooley's Verdict

None of these fit the category. Yes, I've heard the arguments for all of them, and I'm sorry, I don't buy it. Azalea's just a baddie. Leota's just crazy. Kentigern's not crazy at all, just wildly devoted to silly ideals (and no, I don't count that as "crazy"). In the end, my vote went to the wildcard of the three, Azalea. Thought she would present an interesting conflict for the rest of the cast, and could potentially end up filling that "may be crazy" role, despite her app not doing it.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 23, 2017, 08:05:49 PM
Beasts Who-- Wait... Where Did My Wallet Go?

:mouse: --- Adeen Pinebarrow --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uE_e0nKWQ28)

Love the setup, and I like a lot of the unconventional choices here. That it's a married couple who are the thieves. That the scene isn't just about them breaking in at night and thieving--it goes a step further. That Adeen's thieving isn't just a bit token, but reflects far greater aspects to her character. From the very start, this app intrigued me, and went on to hook me. We get such a vivid and broad picture of Adeen through this app, and precious little of it is the author sitting us down and saying "Adeen feels this way. Thinks this. Is that." Instead, little touches color her for the audience, such as:
Quote
Adeen led into the mansion when Fenton did not respond.

Adeen trembled with delight and let a rattled sigh escape her throat, which died beneath thunderous snores.

"I escaped 'my place.'" Adeen’s words hung deadly and sure. "Let me show you yours."
Also, props for the excellent use of callbacks and repetition. "Two voles[...] of a mansion," Adeen dragging her blade again and again for the various reasons, "[X] didn't save them," etc. Why does this work in particular? Look at Adeen's character. Her core conceit is that she's a beast who can't let go. She always has to return and dig deeper into her vengeance. Fitting that the story itself is written so that details keep looping back, leaving the audience feeling vaguely like they've seen this all before. Wonderful work.
As an aside, I know a lot of people mentioned in their reviews about Adeen killing Fenton. I didn't take it that way. I just thought a battle happened, Adeen loses herself in it, and she doesn't realize that in the process, Fenton was cut down by one of the hares. Not sure exactly what your plan was, Adeen's author, but count me in the camp of her not killing Fenton. It just goes a bit far in my mind to think that she would seriously lose herself that much to end up killing Fenton as well, though I can see him dying via her negligence and refusal to run.

Some oddities freckle the piece. The bit with her stabbing the uniform confused me greatly on my first read. They take their places in the "bed chamber," she raises her dagger and then "plunges it," and she's cutting up a uniform. Yes, he does hang up the uniform earlier, but look at the way the sentence itself is worded. By calling it a "bed chamber," you focus the reader's mind on the bed, and raising a knife and then plunging it is a downward motion, not horizontal, as would be if you were cutting up a hanging uniform. I know I'm not the only one who initially thought she killed them, so in the future, I would exercise caution in how your word choices guide the imagination of the reader.
Then there's something like ""Firstyourdeposit," said Adeen." I understand what's going on--it's a stylistic trick to indicate rushed speaking. I don't think it works, though. Whenever I've seen this trick, it's usually used to indicate a character completely wigging out, not impatience. Ultimately, I don't care for this trick in the same way I don't like authors using all-caps or parenthesis. It's an attempt to get across more information, but ultimately only draws attention to itself. I don't think "huh, Adeen's talking really fast." I think "...there are no spaces. Why? Oh, I guess she's talking fast? Okay."
And, as an aside, those hares go to sleep dang fast.

You got in, Adeen's author. Hooray! I love your writing, and I think Adeen has a ton of potential (though I worry if you just go with the "she's crazy and keels everybody" angle). Of all the apps in this category, Adeen had the most to show, and I'm very excited to see what her author does with her. Be sure you don't get too ahead of yourself, though, with your sentence construction. Make heavy use of your co-authors and see if they find any bits odd.

Tooley's Brutally Honest Expectation: From the way it's written, it does appear she killed Fenton. Boo. Adeen's strong writing carries her well into the contest, but she'll need more than just enjoyable prose to survive. She runs the risk right now of lacking empathetic qualities to endear her to the audience. Maybe she and Silas will hit it off, given they have a similar backstory. I'm ultimately not too worried, though. The writing in this app is excellent, her author is capable, and I very much look forward to reading her post that I see is already up.
Also, SlyXAdeen when?

:weasel: --- Faye --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PEiVj2ZVv4)

This is a cute app. It's simple, straight to the point, and doesn't waste the reader's time. It's all about communicating Faye's character through her dialogue, and this works fairly well. Her comic overreactions earned some chuckles from me, less because of what happened, and more how it happened. The "Oh that hurt me, Grim! Right in here, right where it hurts the most!" is something I can just see playing out in my head. The little choices like repeating "right" is what makes it work, and what makes Faye as a character engaging. Her dialogue is colorful and scatterbrained in all the right ways.
The coin trick as well was creative. Nothing stunning, but a good show of Faye's dexterity and capabilities. Sure, she's not robbing a bank blind, but that trick with hitting the two coins so that one lonks on her snout? That was obviously done on purpose. Faye knows the ropes, but moreover, she knows how to work other beasts to her benefit.

Sad thing is, as colorful as Faye is, that's about all she has going for her. There just really isn't much here. There's nothing wrong with the scene, but it was very predictable on my first read. And that's my biggest problem with Faye--she's everything the reader expects, and nothing more. The smooth-talking roadside thief. Is there anything wrong with that? Well, no, but we've all seen that so many times. She really needed some hook to grab the reader's interest.
I don't harp on passive voice too much, since I think it has its place at times (don't hurt me, Matra), but I'm going to ding points for the opening paragraph: It was a ferret. He was carrying. It was unimportant. And then the doozy:
Quote
What was important, however, was what she assumed was in the ferret’s purse.
This really harms the pacing of the intro, but moreover, it prevents us from engaging with Faye in the moment. This is particularly problematic for a character like Faye, who is all about engaging the audience through the scene and character.
Also, I'd look at having the emotions of the scene be a bit more concrete. The ferret goes from fearful, to embarrassed, to sheepishly angry (all in one sentence). Then, soon after, he goes from angry to curious. I'm not suggesting your characters become statues of emotion, but it's a bit too mercurial here. Instead of telling us what the character is feeling, key us in on it via his body language. Does he jump, then press a paw to his chest, then snarl with his ears pinned back? Be sure to spice up the scene a bit!

You didn't get in, Faye's author, but if you did, I would have definitely looked at figuring out some sort of angle to Faye that extended beyond just her roguish quirks. Maybe it'd be a backstory, or a particular struggle, or she knows something about Nire/the Crater. Whatever it is, Faye very much needed some more to keep the audience invested in her character. Her dialogue was charming, though, and definitely would have been a big asset in the contest.

What I think would have happened? Faye swings big for a character arc. Hits some, misses others. She's fun to read, but charm has its limits, and despite being a fun read, the other cast members ultimately would have had more invested in the story (and their own personal stories).

:fox: --- Lacey 'Silver Tail' McTally --- [song] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8MTAn3BYYo)

A-ha, a thief in a slightly different sense of the word. More a conbeast than a straight thief, but it works well and is a unique spin on the category. Sharp Eyes in particular is a lot of fun, and I enjoyed reading the banter between him and Lacey. The casserole line in particular brought a smile to my face. Much like Faye, it's a good bit of humor not for what is said, but for how.
A small detail, but one I appreciated, was how Lacey's dialect shifts once she's away from the woodlanders. We go from
Quote
“I do appreciate all the kindness you have shown me but there are other villages that need my help.
to
Quote
Ya still shouldn’t take the risk ye great big fat turkey.
It's a small touch that helps to sell just how much into the role Lacey gets to con these beasts.

I'm split on the "credit to your species" bit. On the one hand, I really like it. How you take a single line and then spin it differently by the end. On the other hand, I was actually a bit confused on my first read through. Thought the squirrel was iterating once again at the end that he believes she's a good beast. I think this is in part due to the body language. He shakes in place but doesn't run, and then begins to tear up. I got the vibe he was welcoming his death, staring it in the face and offering one last line of hope to Lacey, rather than turning bitter and saying "welp, you foxes are all the same." This wasn't a problem on my second read, though, and I really do like the trick, so props where they're due.

The beginning caused me to double-take twice. The sudden flashback whips us sharply away from the present, and it took me some time to get my bearings. I would have just started with the "Please, stay another night" line, and italicized everything that was part of the flashback. A crude solution since I'm not a fan of flashbacks in general, but it would have made sure there was no confusion on the part of the audience.
Along with this, a few other moments gave me pause. Like when Lacey first sees Sharp Eyes. She acts surprised and fearful, then suddenly switches to anger? Why fake the surprise at all? There's also some present/past tense problems, where the app swaps between the two. I imagine the author is more comfortable with present, hence why it reverts occasionally. I can appreciate that, as it's hard to work yourself out of a habit, but just keep an eye on that in the future so that your writing maintains a consistency.

You didn't get in, Lacey's author, but if you did, I would have liked to have seen where you planned to take Lacey. There is obviously something there, where she seems to want to be a beast who is a "credit to her species," but this potential arc is dulled a bit by having her give the word for the squirrel's murder at the end. I think it could have been cool to see a rift form between her and Sharp Eyes, where slowly she realizes she doesn't want this life anymore, while he's unwilling to alter the arrangement. Heck, this would have worked excellently in the arena, since Sharp Eyes probably would have taken to the killing easily, but Lacey? Not so much.

What I think would have happened? Lacey gets far more than she bargained for. Karma slaps hard, and she's tossed into the death pit we lovingly know as the Crater. All that she's known is ripped away from her as Sharp Eyes ditches her to focus on surviving, and instead she must turn to the beasts around her for help. Slowly, she realizes that in order to survive, she must once again play the part of a hero. And maybe, just maybe, she'll actually end up being a genuine hero too while she's at it.

:weasel: --- Tooley's Verdict

I voted for Adeen.
If all the apps are forest trails, then Adeen is an off-road natural trail filled with vibrant flowers you've never seen before, and it takes you past a riverstream where critters play along the edge. It's just filled with so much to see and appreciate. ...but it's also full of potholes, and you keep tripping all along the journey. Faye is a preset trail through your local park. It's completely harmless and everything you see is nice, but it's all very expected. Lacey is a winding path through a thick forest where you're not entirely sure if you're actually on a trail since half the place is covered in undergrowth. While it's a journey, you end up feeling more lost than lost in nature.


AAAAAAND IT'S OVER. I will be reviewing the contest, but I have some Audience Contest obligations to uphold. Don't worry, it won't be too long. For one, my contest reviews are going to be much more off-the-cuff. Each of these app reviews takes about two hours to do, and I just can't spare that kind of time on every single contest post, so you guys 'n gals are gonna have to bear with Brutally Blunt Tooley.

Stay tuned!
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Matra Hammer on July 24, 2017, 06:28:18 AM
Let me be the first to congratulate you on completing the entire applicant spread. This is no easy feat, and providing such depth and reflection in turn is double impressive.

We rarely voted for the same beasts it seems - still need to do a final tally but it smells this way. I'd love hearing a bit about how you're considering contest entries from here on out. Judging apps and judging story entries are two different things, and some "this is what I do" guidelines might help other readers as well.

Hmm. Might do the same next.

You're keeping things short for the main contest. So, what kind of format will you use? Craft centric? Personal? Gut reactions? One read impressions? I thought about short paragraph shots as well, but I struggle in thinking of anything that isn't a copy of Crue's impressions. Though, we all see different things so I guess it isn't a straight copy.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 24, 2017, 04:04:00 PM
Quote
I'd love hearing a bit about how you're considering contest entries from here on out.

"Does their character fascinate/interest/hook me? Do I want to read more of their story, or see more of them in the contest? Do I love their interactions with the cast, and want to see more from those bonds/conflicts?" Ultimately, it's that simple. If I like your character, Top 10, then I'm going to want to see them remain in the story. Of course, liking your character doesn't mean that they are a likable character, per say. As I mentioned many times in my reviews, it's more about empathy. If I can empathize with their story and character conflicts.

Everything else is just fluff. How well they play the Survivor "game," how amazing their craft is, etc. If the story isn't there, then it doesn't matter what else is.

Quote
So, what kind of format will you use?

Gut reactions off my first read. I just don't have the time for anything more. Each of those app reviews took 2+ hours to write, and I can't afford that for every single post of the story. Take this as an opportunity to practice making a good first impression with your writing, Top 10, since the vast majority of readers who ever view your work will judge it purely based off that first read.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 25, 2017, 11:42:04 AM
Reviews are a-go! Hurrah!

I mentioned before that these will be first-read impressions, since I can spare nothing more. I should also note that this may include me being a bit more blunt. If I don't like your post, I'm going to say so.

I know that some of the authors who got in may be newer writers. Understand that I will try to be as respectful as possible, and that any and all of my comments are directed at the writing, not the author. I know it's hard to separate yourself from your writing, but in the case of this being a writing competition, it's something you must do as an author when receiving feedback.

If you are a newer author/member of this community, or this is your first Survivor, then my inbox is completely open to you. Shoot me a PM if you have any questions about points I may make, or want a second opinion. Th' woozle is more than happy to oblige. =)


Letters From a Thief

Boooo she did kill Fenton. But yay, because my faith in the author wasn't misplaced, and they're at least diving headfirst into this conflict to present a very compelling story. Enjoyed the scene structure, and the slow reveal of a lot of the details (the carving of the gravestones, how this relates to Adeen wanting to take her life, etc). Canen's intro was a bit weird, took me a while to realize what was going on, since it's several paragraphs before it's clear he's Fenton's father.

Loved the bit with Simondale. Didn't fully get a grasp on his character until that moment. Thought he may just be a jerk hare who's toying with Adeen, but nah, seems like he's actually got a decent heart in him. The bit about the smile not reaching his eyes implies he doesn't much like Adeen, but I think that's what makes the moment all the better--that he's willing to reach out to a beast who he doesn't even fully believe deserves a second chance. Could be reading too much into it, but I liked that part a lot, especially because it keys me in to the fact that Adeen does have a storyarc to explore. There's hope for her yet--if not for redemption of some kind, then at least for her to tell an engaging story.

Take note, Top 10. This is what you want to do. Make it clear from the start that your character will have a story to tell. Something with some meat and meaning to it.



As an aside: time for Tooley to be a bit stern. It's five days until the deadline. First round last two weeks, double the amount of posts. That's 16 more posts to get out by the 30th. Step it up, authors. If you're holding things up, then you need to get it in gear. I'm not pointing at any one of you in particular, since I don't know what's going on behind the scenes, but asking the audience to read 25k+ words in the next five days is ridiculous.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 25, 2017, 01:31:58 PM
Play, Minstrel, Play

Oh, joy! A Komi post. Been waitin' fer this one. Glad to see the songs are back. The hard insert of "she sings because it reminds her of happier days" is a little rough, but I'll accept it. It justifies her singing as more than just a gimmick.

Very much appreciate how her encounter with Nire's beasts doesn't end exactly as you'd expect. She actually does get away, and takes a good number of beasts down with her. It's one of those moments where as a reader, you know where this is all going, but the writing is gripping enough to still somehow keep you on your toes. I want Komi to get away, even though I know she won't, ultimately. On the flipside, the random bit of "here, let me tell the audience my history with Jossia"? Bleh. Comes out of nowhere, and while I understand its importance, it should have been saved for a better time where the info wouldn't be so shoved in.

Oh ho ho! And Komi with the tie-in to Aldridge via Aera. I'm a huge Aldridge fan, so already that's a massive plus in my book. Not sure whose idea it was, but big props to whoever proposed it. The back and forth got tiring, though. "Let us help you!" "no" "Please!" "No." "We have a stoat!" "Aldridge yayyy wait no." "But... stoat! Help you! Us!" "NOOO"
Save your bullets. Komi denies their help/snarls at them/complains about them being woodlanders multiple times, and it loses its punch. I go from "wow, these two know each other! How cool!" to "ugh... they're back to the stalemate of her being stubborn for #reasons" very quickly.
Aera and Aldridge as well sound a bit... off, in this post. Too much of a bleeding heart on both of their part? Perhaps a touch melodramatic? Like, with this line:
Quote
“Komi, you are going to have help, because I’m not going to abandon you out here.”
Just feels off. Like it's more of a cliche than a genuine line being spoken by someone to someone else they know very well.

Quote
They sat there, the two of them, almost nose to nose, staring into one another’s eyes, until Komi couldn’t bear it anymore.

Oh just kiss already.

Overall? Fun post with some twisting arcs that keep things interesting. Very excited to see Ald and Komi interact further, but there are some oddities and hiccups throughout the post that hold it back. Too much repetition in some areas, too much time spent on unnecessary scenes in others. But Komi herself is interesting, and that's what matters.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 25, 2017, 02:16:23 PM
Madder Barrow

That moment where Aldridge notices all the enemy beasts is awesome. It's just one of those bits in a story that sticks with you - a quintessential moment that showcases a character, how they think, and what they're capable of. Wonderful stuff. I think it would have been a far better punch to have him straight up hit Jossia in the head - not sure why he's only going for an injuring blow - but the irony of him hitting the leg she's using works well enough.

Why the heck did they suddenly attack, though? It's possible I missed something, but it seemed clear that the villagers didn't want to get involved with a fight if all they were going to do was take Komi. So why are they suddenly striking first?

On the one hand, I love your descriptions. Such little touches and word choices bring the moment so much more to life.
Quote
The village of Madder Barrow looked as though it had been spilled onto the land. A hotch-potch of thatched and tiled roofs, bordered by ten strides of lumpy grass, surrounded by thick, old forest.
The "spilled onto the land" is wonderful imagery, but my favorite bit here is actually the "thick, old forest." I've read many a poor man's fantasy novel with trite description, and I'm sick of hearing about verdant forests thick with foliage and blah blah blah. But just one little word - "old" - suddenly gives this place a grounding. A history.

Then there are times where I feel you get a bit too ahead of yourself. Like:
Quote
A grim certainty fell about Aldridge's shoulders - a thick velvet cloak still drenched from the last night's snow.
...eh? Is that just a fancy metaphor? Then what's the snow about? If it's not a metaphor, why the awkward transition just to talk about his cloak?

Quote
We've given them a chance - that's the greatest gift of all.
Well now. I'm sensing an emerging theme to this story as a whole. Especially with Adeen's post prior to this. Dunno if this was planned, but it seems like "chances" are building up to be a unifying thread for all these beasts.

The Adeen bit is... odd. Why isn't she captured/locked up somewhere? She mentions her own punishment, which makes sense, but are captured beasts allowed to walk so freely/talk with other captives? I mean, it's not a bad thing if true, but I'm just confused.

I don't feel like this is "your" post, Aldridge. You follow up Komi's post, sure, and there are those glimmers of your excellent writing, but nothing really major seems to happen in this, in regards to showing off Aldridge's character. For example, you have a fight bust out in the village. We not only just receive a recap of this, rather than experiencing it for ourselves, but Aldridge's activity in the fight is to shoot one person, then immediately hit the ground. And no one in his village died. Beyond simply being taken away, Aldridge hasn't really lost anything yet. So the "moment" of that scene just feels like... I dunno, a shoulder shrug. "Eh, it happened." Seems like an excellent opportunity to have Aldridge rushing about, talking to the inexperienced woodlanders. How he tells a young vole to steady his aim like he taught him to just last week, or makes sure young Aera has enough arrows and isn't wasting them, etc.
He apparently has history with hordes. This was an excellent moment to show us how he puts those experiences into play, albeit in the service of defending his home and family. Instead, we just get a rushed fight that seemingly happens for no reason, and I don't really get to experience anything new about Aldridge.

Love your writing, but this post could have been better. In the future, look for opportunities to showcase Aldridge. Be sure you don't coast along the story, only following up other characters. When you have a post, it's your time to shine, so make it worthwhile. Drive the plot, and if you can't do that, show us why Aldridge is such a great/interesting/fun/deep/[other positive attribute] character.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 26, 2017, 04:59:16 PM
The Monster of Mossflower Woods

My word this post is long. On the one hand, yay, more character scenes! On the other hand... nah, this is just too long. Halfway through, I was asking myself when it'd be over already. Which is a shame, since Minerva is a very neat character who I enjoy. But nearly 8k words? Too much. The entire opening scene with Nix? Cut it. An instant 500 words saved. It doesn't add anything to the story, and in fact, it robs the reader of suspense when the hedgehog shows up later, since we already know full well who it is. Cutting back the rest would take some fancy footwork, but I can tell you now that this post has only two important parts: the scene in the forest where she's captured, and her being taken before Nire. Everything else? Fluff. You can argue if it's worthwhile fluff, but look at what's actually accomplished in those scenes: there are boars. Adeen is allowed to roam free (kind of). Mossflower peeps don't know about money.

Prioritize your scenes. Cut the fluff. Even if it's a moment you really like, see how it serves the character or plot. Ask yourself if it needs to be there. If you hesitate? Cut it away.

Now let's actually talk about Minerva for a bit, because I do find her character very compelling. Through both the app and her fight in this piece, we see that she is willing to do anything for her daughter. This makes her an incredibly dangerous character for the est of the cast, but moreover, a very empathetic one. I think all of us want to see Minerva somehow find a way to both save Fable and not go to the Dark Side. That conflict is just ripe for exploration, and the author here sets it up magnificently. Minerva's bread and butter is going to be how she clashes with the cast. Don't drop that--milk it for all it's worth. Let us wince every time she does something horrific, because we know that while she may hate doing it, we know she has to.

Her "stay awake" bit is amazing and I love it. It's like Aldridge's moment of noticing all the beasts. It's such a keystone moment of showcasing Minerva. How she has to push so hard on herself to keep going, to do anything for her daughter. But more than that, the setup is glorious too, since it fits the tone of the character. A distant mumbling, you walk closer, then you understand the words. And without even being direct, those words are terrifying. Because Mama Otter is awake, and we all know exactly why.

Adeen's weird in this. Similarly to Aldridge, her voice sounds "off" in her dialogue. I suppose if her author signed off on it, it's all right, but it just felt... odd. Like this:
Quote
"Are ye one of them?" she growled.

"I'm not wearing blue, am I?" the vole answered. "No, I'm a prisoner like you. My name is Adeen Tullus.  That marten, Nix, caught sight of my tools, so I'm tasked with taking inventory. It's not so bad, I suppose. It staves off boredom and helps me know my fellow captives. May I know you?"
It smacks of a dialogue info dump. First line is good, appropriately sharp for Adeen's character. Then we go into: here's my role, my name, my talents, my feelings about it, how about you?

I know why you put in the bit about her knowing about the Monster thing - to create a link between the two - but it didn't click with me. Didn't buy it. Why would someone so broken and shut off like Adeen suddenly start opening up about her children and precious memories she shared with them? I can see her dropping some tidbits of backstory--maybe opening up enough to mention that she had children too. But anything further? Nah.

The bit with Nire is real solid. Shows us how much of a jerk he is, but also how he keeps even the strongest, fiercest beasts in order. Him forcing her to put the collar on Fable is wonderful. Shows the roles each of those characters are in perfectly. And the last line? Heck yeah. That gets me pumped to see just what Minerva will do in the contest.

Overall? Good character, some spotlight moments of greatness drowned under a deluge of fluff. Tighten things up in the future. Both to show your really cool character off, but also so that you don't rub the audience the wrong way every time they see a Minerva post.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Minerva on July 26, 2017, 06:22:17 PM
Hey, Tooley. Just wanted to go ahead and thank you for writing all these reviews for us. It means a lot to have someone in the audience giving us feedback for the story we're creating, and goes a long way to help us all improve our characters and craft.

That being said, I do have a few comments to make about what you've said about my post.

Quote
My word this post is long. On the one hand, yay, more character scenes! On the other hand... nah, this is just too long. Halfway through, I was asking myself when it'd be over already. Which is a shame, since Minerva is a very neat character who I enjoy. But nearly 8k words? Too much. The entire opening scene with Nix? Cut it. An instant 500 words saved. It doesn't add anything to the story, and in fact, it robs the reader of suspense when the hedgehog shows up later, since we already know full well who it is. Cutting back the rest would take some fancy footwork, but I can tell you now that this post has only two important parts: the scene in the forest where she's captured, and her being taken before Nire. Everything else? Fluff. You can argue if it's worthwhile fluff, but look at what's actually accomplished in those scenes: there are boars. Adeen is allowed to roam free (kind of). Mossflower peeps don't know about money.

I apologize it was so long, but I felt every scene was necessary for setting up Minerva's character arc as well as establishing the rules of the world and characterizing some of the NPCs. I disagree entirely about removing the opening scene, because, without it, The Monster of Mossflower Woods mythos wouldn't be properly established for what's to come in the later scenes. As for robbing the reader of suspense- Komi and Aldridge's posts came before this one that properly showed the beasts in blue. There was no point to building suspense because the reader would know from this point on, anyone in blue is working for Nire. So instead, I chose to try and develop them so they actually had faces and weren't just faceless mooks. And, while the reader may know that the hedgehog is a villain, Minerva doesn't.

Quote
Mossflower peeps don't know about money.
there are boars.

I won't comment on this scene, I'll just say I was unsuccessful at getting across what I wanted.

Quote
Adeen's weird in this. Similarly to Aldridge, her voice sounds "off" in her dialogue. I suppose if her author signed off on it, it's all right, but it just felt... odd. Like this:

Quote
I know why you put in the bit about her knowing about the Monster thing - to create a link between the two - but it didn't click with me. Didn't buy it. Why would someone so broken and shut off like Adeen suddenly start opening up about her children and precious memories she shared with them? I can see her dropping some tidbits of backstory--maybe opening up enough to mention that she had children too. But anything further? Nah.

Adeen approved of the conversation and the dialogue, saying it was perfectly in character for her. While Adeen might be closed off, her opening up to another mother is understandable, especially when it's about her kids.


Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 26, 2017, 06:34:59 PM
I appreciate your comments, Minerva, and for taking the time to share them here. Glad to hear my thoughts are catching the eye of the Top 10. =)

Also appreciate the further insight on the post (like how Adeen's author signed off on the dialogue. So I won't ding you for the oddity). As for the length/scenes, I'll let my comments stand for now. While I love me some good debate, I just don't have the time to get into what might become a protracted conversation.

Best of luck in the competition, and thanks for droppin' by! =)
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 26, 2017, 08:09:38 PM
The Second Heartbeat

Many Bothans died to bring us this information.
Sorry. Just had to.

So... this one needs work. By the end of it, I've a million questions of "why" and no answers. Why does Kentrith go to his brother? Why now, when he's been gone for five years? Why did he leave the Crater? Why is he going back? Why is his name the Crane? Why does he know who "Direbeast" is when he's been away from the Crater for five years and shouldn't recognize the name of a fighter, especially when it's only afterwards that he recognizes the badger?

Now, understand, some of these are good questions to pose to the audience. "Ooh, I wonder why X character is doing this?" is a worthy pool of intrigue to draw from, but only if we have some meat to sink our teeth into. As it stands, I have no clue what Kentrith is doing, why he's doing it, or why I should care. What's his quest? What story is trying to be told? Look at the other characters of the cast:
Adeen - a broken mother who must decide if she even deserves a second chance.
Komi - a warrior running from her past, though her past keeps haunting her at every turn, and she will eventually have to face it.
Aldridge - someone who has already found his peace and seeming "redemption" only to have old troubles return once more to rob him of these things he's fought desperately for.
Minerva - a mother who will do anything to protect her daughter, perhaps even becoming an actual "monster."

Here in Kentrith's post, I don't really see the grand story that this character is going to tell. He's a former fighter returning to the arena to...? To what? I harp on this because it's still only the first half of the round, and I believe you can show us the answers to many of these "why" questions in your second post. I also point this out to caution any of the other authors--make sure the audience always has a reason to root for your character. And no, getting by on sheer personality alone does not count. They must have a story to tell.

Let's lay off the critique a bit, because I do like some key scenes in this post. The bit with his brother? Really nice. Especially when he starts making a pack for Kentrith. And these two lines are just wonderful:
Quote
"Then at least you’ll have something to remember me by."
\
Bothan looked up with a small smile. “Then you’ll have to come back and get more.”
With the first, I got the vibe that this was a jab. A loving jab from a stern brother, but still a bit of a jab. "It's taken you this long to appear, and now you're going to disappear again. But I care about you, so at least you'll remember me this time." There's so much history in that one single line, and MMM I love it! And then it's backed up by that second line. The bite and jab is gone, and now it's clear to everyone that yeah, Bothan really does care about Kentrith. It's just a genuine, sweet moment between these bros.
And I'm gonna go for a third, because even the very last line is great. He's done what he can in making a pack, but Bothan is probably out of his element, when it comes to understanding what Kentrith needs. So despite having full on initiative to take care of Kentrith, he has to ask what else his bro needs. The whole end bit is wonderful.

Quote
Forcing his paws not to shake, he flicked his right wrist. His folding scalpel slid to his paw, and with another snick, he opened it. He knelt by the prone, writhing creature and quickly slid the small blade into his neck.
This as well. Wonderful part. It's the first bit that keys us into Kentrith's past as a medic, but more than that, it's a fortifying detail to his character that informs us more of his personality. Moreover, his personality all those years in the arena. He hasn't abandoned all his medical knowledge, and in fact, uses it to end the suffering of the beasts he vanquishes in as humane (vermane?) a way as possible.
That, and I just think his little wrist switchblade scalpel thing is super cool.

So, good news is that the round isn't over yet. Bad news is that you've got a lot of ground to cover in your second post, Kentrith. We need to see him acting, doing something to drive the story - and more important - his story forward. You've got a particular advantage in this, as Kentrith is serving in a more official capacity, rather than just being a gladiator grunt. He's got a lot of freedom (I presume) to move around the Crater. Whatever he's there for, we need to begin to see this in your next post. Come out swinging. Make some plays. Shake up the plot. Make us cheer for Kentrith, because we know exactly what his struggle is (so be sure to key us in on what his struggle actually is).
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Crue Sarish on July 27, 2017, 07:45:57 PM
Bad news is that you've got a lot of ground to cover in your second post, Kentrith.

I had the impression that there would be a vote at the end of this week. Could explain the longer posts instead of two shorter posts.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Minerva on July 27, 2017, 10:44:42 PM
Quote
I had the impression that there would be a vote at the end of this week. Could explain the longer posts instead of two shorter posts.

Nope. We just were a little behind because one of our writers had some life things going on. No biggie though, and it's been resolved now. We're all hard at work on our second posts for the round and they should be coming presently. Some are even up now!
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Crue Sarish on July 28, 2017, 07:09:01 AM
Nope. We just were a little behind because one of our writers had some life things going on. No biggie though, and it's been resolved now. We're all hard at work on our second posts for the round and they should be coming presently. Some are even up now!

Gotcha. Thanks for the update. I know how hard it can be not only getting the story set up between ten people, but also working around real-life responsibilities.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 30, 2017, 08:28:22 AM
Not a whole lot of time before the vote, so I'm gonna try and rush through the rest.

Redwall Rhapsody

Kali's good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like her.

References aside, this was a really fun read, mostly due to the excellent characterization found in Kali, and the enjoyable dialogue that she banters about with others. Her bit with Inkpaw is great, her dialogue with Kentigern was enjoyable, and I particularly enjoyed the way the author handled Nire. An excellent showing of how he's a beast of entertainment, highly appreciative of the unusual and artistic, but still is very dangerous.

What shines best in Kali's work is the author's handle over writing beats. The scene transition midway through is a key example of this:
Quote
Nothing was going to stop her from reaching her destiny.

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU ARE NOT HIRING?!”
Boom, we're right in the moment, it fits the comedic tone of the character, and the author doesn't waste our time. There's a ton of that type of contrast in this post, where the author's set up one expectation, then breaks it soon after. Her fainting at the end of the second scene is another example of this, or her talking about how it's not about the money (but it is).
Probably the best moment is when she's showing Inkpaw the flier. Check it out:
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“It’s a flier.” Kali explained, “Of the arena.” She bounced the paper in her wing tips back and forth, waiting for the marten to share in her glee. “They need a bard.”
Look at the pacing here. Everything serves a purpose, and it works excellently. The pause between the first two bits of dialogue? Establishes that sort of stop-and-go staccato that she's speaking with, where she thinks her painfully obvious statements should be enough to explain her joy. This leads into that moment of visual humor, which works because of the staccato tone established. And then - without the author bothering to waste words telling us how she feels or adverbs -  she drops the "act" and staccato tone and finally makes it clear why she's excited, transitioning us perfectly into the rest of the scene.
It's an excellent moment of character, it works because of the work of the author, and I had a genuine smile on my face afterwards.

Though, I don't care for the tricks used with the bold text. I've mentioned before how I don't like it when authors use all-caps, since it's a cheap way of telling the audience "oh look, they're shouting," rather than conveying that through the story, context, and character. The bold text here is very similar. I'm willing to excuse some of it, like: "I’m not DONE with you." since that at least fits the intensity of the moment. But then there's:
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"knife aimed for her heart…"
Yeah, this just doesn't work. "Oh, look! This part is REALLY important! So I bolded it! Feel the emotion and oomph! Because it's bolded!" Let your writing and the scene impart meaning and punch to the audience, not your text styles.

Random aside: how does the title make sense? Redwall doesn't show up anywhere. It's an incredibly minor nitpick, but I do really enjoy when posts have titles that fit.

Overall? Kali is a super fun character. She doesn't necessarily have a ton of depth to her just yet, but that's fine. Kali is like some really, really good cotton-candy that's sure to put a smile on your face. Luckily for her author, there is hope of a character arc being set up, with her whole deal about authenticity of performing, being appreciated by the crowds, etc.
One warning to the author: do not rest on your laurels. Kali is super fun, but if that's all she ever is, she'll get voted off the moment her act becomes tiring (which it will). We'll need to see what her story actually is. What her quest will be. How she's more than just cotton candy at the fair. I have high hope that you can do it, though. A good first showing here.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 30, 2017, 09:02:45 AM
The Best-laid Plans

The writing here is very smooth. It doesn't waste my time, and I enjoyed the pace of it all--seeing Silas work the various jobs, learn about the Crater, and figure out the routine of the guards. I think I would have liked to have seen a bit more downtime with him. So much of the post is just description about what he's doing and why--some more dialogue would have rounded things out a bit. The bit with him talking to the poorer laborers is a wonderful example of this, and furthermore, it reminds us that Silas is just a farm rat from many miles away. Of course he relates to these beasts.
I'm not dinging any points for this, though. It makes sense that Silas keeps to himself in his sole focus. Just a word of caution for your future posts.

I work in landscaping, so you earned a smile from me with all the gardening bits later on. Though, if I read it right, three weeks just for fifty vines means those workers were heckuva slackin' off. Unless the "following weeks of trellis installation along the Crater walls" was also something they did, though I'm not clear if those weeks fell under the same "three weeks" that is mentioned at the start.

I very much enjoy seeing his story play out, though. Is it a traditional revenge story? Sure, but there's nothing wrong with that. Silas is a compelling character, you very much get a feel for what he's lost, and I want to see where his story leads.

A few oddities that broke me a bit from the character. Like when he finally hears tell where exactly Blasio is. This rat's first reaction - the same rat driven so far across the world only by pure revenge and hatred? He sighs. And wishes that Blasio was in an easier to locate place. I mean, sure, Silas isn't wrong, but I would think Silas would feel a rush of purpose, of determination, of finally knowing exactly where that blasted beast is.
Not sure exactly what his deal with shredding the tunic is, either. He wraps them around his body, but... why? I can make guesses, but I just didn't connect with what was going on. Related to this, the random aside about the letters at that time was also confusing. Thought at first that they were in that tunic, not in the outfit he was already wearing. A bit more clarity of what's going on with such details would have helped.
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he could practically taste the thick, pungent oil that coated Blasio Timberfell’s shiny coat
Eh? How does Silas know what sort of oil coats Blasio's coat? He never met the beaver.

A good post, in the end. A few bits that stuck out, but nothing that harms Silas as a character. I think he'll eventually need something more than just his revenge shtick to get him far in the contest, but I have hope that Silas' author will figure something out. They've a capable handle over the craft, and their writing is easy and enjoyable to read.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 30, 2017, 09:55:17 AM
All We Have Left

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Wee Bonnie and her mother were quite the headstrong pair,
Eh? I thought Bonnie was the mother?  *reads further* ...the Scottish hare has a wife and child named Bonnie? That's a bit much. And it ties into an overarching thing for me. I'm not a big fan of the Scottish accent when it's written out. It's unfair of me to ding it against the author, but ugh, I just hate seeing it written out. Gets on my nerves for reasons I can only take guesses at. I think a large part is that it lives and breathes tropes. "Look, my character has a 'Mac' prefix for their last name and says 'Ach' a lot. Hurrah, characterization!" I mention this at the top because it keys into a lot of the problems I have with Kentigern.

For one, there are a ton of hard inserts in this piece, and half of them don't need to be there at all. Why do I care about if Kentigern can hold his liquor against Dunwillie? And why do I care about how good a drinker Dunwillie is? Or Kentigern going off about how his fur is graying because he's raising a family. Or him reminiscing about the letter he sent to his daughter. Or him talking about his family's traditions. I don't care about any of these because in large part, I have - at that point in time - zero idea where Kent is, or what he's doing. Why is he talking to Dunwillie? Why does any of it matter? What's the context for any of this?
In relation to my nonplussed attitude with Scottish accents, this is kind of what I'm talking about. Two war buddies chat about random stuff that I have no direct relation or care about, and they do so with Scottish accents. So... it's characterization, I guess? Just talking about traditions, or the good times, or the auld ways doesn't mean anything to me, since I don't know what half of those are, and the ones I do I have no frame of reference to care about.

These are the guys that you find in bars, talking about the times in college where they used to be the kings of the sororities, and one of them you know has a bad family life and doesn't treat his wife as he should. None of us would care about about that guy, so why would we care about Kentigern?

Even when we finally get to the "why" of Kentigern talking to Dunwillie, it's still drowned under unnecessary and confusing details. Who the heck is Laird Abernathy? Or MacGillie? Or Alastair??? And immediately we drop the "Actually, that's why ah asked ye tae travel all this way." and go straight back to more sorority reminiscing about the Braw Wanderers and saying more Scottish phrases. Why do I care when Kentigern last saw Alastair?

The Nire scene is a huge improvement. We know why Kentigern is there, and the bit about Nire playing his vermin hatred against him is well done. As an aside, I think there was a missed opportunity there that would have tied into my comments above, and that's when Nire says he got damson wine from Redwall. Earlier, Kentigern notes how his family is close to Redwall, and so they'd be safe. Suddenly, he's just heard proof that even Nire has influence over Redwall. Boom, instant moment for him to begin to realize that maybe he's made a poor decision in ditching his family. And the audience would care because we know about Kentigern, we know about his family, and it keys into that family/duty conflict that Kentigern has going. That's what was missing from the above. It was all new information that the audience has zero understanding of, and only related to Kentigern, not Kentigern's story.

Aaand he's also a jerk to Thrayjen. Who I'm a big fan of. More of a taste comment, not a major criticism, but I do go back to my suggestion at the end of my app review for Kentigern: why should I empathize with him? Sure, he's on a quest to help an innocent child, but what he's doing versus how I feel about him as a person are two different things. Kentigern needs to learn some humility fast, because as of now - at least for me - I really don't enjoy his character.

None of this is a slam against you, Kentigern's author. Your writing is capable, you have a keen focus on establishing history with each of your characters, and I like that you've taken the challenge of writing an unconventional character type. For example, as much as I loved Thrayjen's app, it was also a very "safe" story. The beast running from a bad past and trying their best to be good to those who have helped them? We naturally gravitate to such stories. That doesn't mean that Thrayjen is a poor author - because he's not - but so too does my criticism of you not mean that you're not a good author either. There are just some choices in here in character direction that don't work well.

Work on your focus. Give us reasons to empathize with Kentigern the person. As of now, I don't really know why he's doing anything that he's doing. Why risk his life for some distant "relative" when he has a family he should be taking care of? And the "auld ways" is not an answer that I can empathize with. Why do those ways matter so much to him? Why do they drive him to run even from his family? Are they even the reason he's doing this at all, or is it just an excuse so he can run from his responsibilities of home life? Answer those questions, and Kentigern may just end up being a fascinating character.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 30, 2017, 10:53:37 AM
Chin Up

Thrayjennnnn! Yayyy! Don't disappoint me, bro. *starts reading*

Hmm... I'm not sure what to make of Thrayjen's reactions to everything. He's a very tender soul, obviously, but he takes everything in such stride. Is he seriously not that bothered by the loss (death? Maybe?) of the hedgehogs that took him in? Take a look after his encounter with Kentigern. There's a bit about his "indignant heat," but we never really get to see him angry. Now, here's the interesting thing: I don't think this is all too much of a problem. Why? Because it ties into the story being told. Check out Blue's reactions to him, how she gets frustrated that he's not willing to act out and fight. In a similar way, we the audience get frustrated at not seeing Thrayjen display some more vibrant emotions. It's that link that tells me the author is purposefully doing this, rather than just waffling about showing anemic reactions from Thrayjen.

In regards to Blue, I think she was a very good addition. Two reasons for that. One, there's a unifying element that exists between her and Thrayjen--their names. Blue isn't her real name, just as Hracken isn't his (and perhaps even Thrayjen as well?). I'm not sure exactly what the author's plan with this element is, but it connects the two characters together in a deeper way. Second off, her acting as both a friendly face for Thrayjen, but also being cold when the situation flips. I would have raised issue with her, had it not been for that ear-twisting moment. Just as we know there's more to Thrayjen then he's showing, I think it's clear there's more to Blue. And she may not be the friendly ferret that we think she is.

I wish Thrayjen's author had gone for the same approach that Minerva did. We don't get to see or experience any of his journey to the Crater. Most importantly - and regrettably - we don't get to see exactly how he reacts in regards to Nan and the children. Apparently he leads the slavers away, but what did that actually look like? What words did he choose to comfort the children, or did he not bother at all? How does he react in such a heat-of-the-moment time? It's a huge loss to not see this for ourselves, and is one of the reasons why his muted reactions in the post rubs me a bit the wrong way.

It's the first post, so I won't ding it too much, but I'm not clear on what Thrayjen's overall story is building up to be. Who was he, before he was taken in by Nan? We still don't know. What did he bury? Did the slavers come for him in particular? Is he related at all to Nire's operations? Why is he so focused on making amends with Kentigern, and avoiding any and all conflict? How exactly does he plan to survive, beyond just smiling and saying "it'll work out"?

I'm mixed on my opinions with this post. It strikes me a lot like Star Wars: Episode VII. Some great things, some odds things, and my overall opinion is going to be determined by how much of those odd things are justified by what the sequel does. Translation: like Kali and Aldridge, don't sit on your laurels. If you hold Thrayjen's secret and past over our heads for too long, then he will get voted off. Look for opportunities to show us more of Thrayjen. Put him in increasingly challenging situations where he's forced to bend or break. I think it works well for this first post, but look at breaking him away - at least in some key moments - from that static "go with the flow" attitude. I have hope that his first encounter in the arena will jar him in ways that will make for some delicious future conflict.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 30, 2017, 11:32:44 AM
The Stupid Situation I'm In

I'll make particular mention of the opening scene. Similar to the app, Sly's author is excellent at that sort of rambling gab, and it's genuinely humorous. Nothing to make me guffaw, but definitely brought a smile to my face. Heck, all throughout the post, there's a lot of good wordplay and back-and-forth. We clearly get a feel for Sly's character, which is necessary given how he doesn't have some massive backstory propelling him forward--in these early weeks, he'll live or die on personality alone.

Why does Geralt have a lisp? Sure sure, it's color to the character, but it wears out it'th welcome really fast, and there is zero reason to bother with it. It's the only defining feature to the fox - besides the aside about his spectacles - and a lisp does not a character make. "But Tooley, it's just a random NPC. Why harp on this like he's an important character?" Because the lisp draws our attention. By adding it, the author says "pay attention!" albeit with no payoff.

Why does this matter? Because Sly runs the risk of the same. "Look, he's gabby! Look, he's a drunk!" Okay, and what else? What's his story? He's going to be playing the betting game with that one coin, but only for the point of securing his next drink. Now, is this a bad thing? No, not exactly. It's a static, selfish character who will manipulate those around him for his own benefit. Problem is, he'll only ever be as important as his surroundings. Sly's story won't fascinate the readers, his meddling with the other cast members will. In this way, Sly's a force, not a character. This is also his first post, so it'd be unfair to presume that there will be nothing more to his character, but I'm noting this here so that the author understands that his character runs a great risk of ultimately being just an antagonistic presence for the other cast members.

An indentured servant in the Crater is allowed in the same bar that Blasio - a beast able to sit in literally one of the best seats of the house - is in? I suppose it's possible, but then why is Sly even able to procure drinks at all? As he says, he's not getting paid, so how did that arrangement even start in the first place? Surely the barkeep isn't as daft as to open a tab for anyone, and surely not collared beasts in the Crater.
It's also probable that Blasio lowered himself down to be in a lesser bar - he says he doesn't frequent it - but why's he down there anyway? If it's about business, surely he'd bring beasts up to meet him on his level, as befitting a jerkwad of his magnitude.

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Enjoy your drink, Mr. Speaky.
Pointing this out because I love it. In a line, it perfectly encapsulates Blasio's arrogance and superiority-complex. An excellent example of the type of sharp wordplay I mentioned above. Good stuff.

Da heck? Why is Kentigern spilling the beans of his plan to this random vole?! ...and oh gosh, there he goes again, spouting off more sorority hijinks. Please tell me this isn't supposed to be a charming aspect to his character, or something?

Final point of consideration: as with my criticism of the app, don't just tell us about Sly and his flaws.
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And let me tell you, I was never without a drink in paw, no matter how disastrous that was for my tabs. And my temper.”
I still don't know what Sly is like when he's drunk. After the mug he has in the post, he's as in control of his faculties as ever. In future posts, that line above? I want to see that. I want to see drunk Sly. I want to see what it does to his temper. The gab is humorous, but don't let it overshadow the character.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 30, 2017, 06:12:25 PM
Treading Paper

What a post. From the top, just going to give Adeen props for the excellent writing here. Now let's take a dive in and see what works about this.

First up, the cast interactions are spot-on. This is how you make your character interact and bond with the other cast members. Why? First, let's look at how some of the cast members have handled NPCs. Kali's moment with Inkpaw, Silas with Blasio, Thrayjen with Blue. All these NPCs feel "right" when you read about them. Like they're key aspects to showcase the main character. Makes sense, that's what NPCs are meant to do. But check out how Adeen handles not only NPCs (such as Hargorn) but the rest of the cast. They feel like they're meant to be a part of her story. These aren't throwaway cameos for the sake of winking at the audience.
Aldridge? Adeen's remembrance of his request of water, their discussion about her notoriety among the beasts, her realization that he acts just as she did when in prison--all of it informs us deeper of who Adeen is, but it also enriches Aldridge in the process. Same with Minerva and Kentrith. Minerva shows us softer side of Adeen while tying into her storyarc desire to stay "out of the storm," but it also shows us a softer side to Minerva. Kentrith? Shows how desperate she is to avoid probable horror at the paws of Hargorn, but also her knowledge of Hapley and some tidbits of her history (which is still unclear). And for Kentrith it shows how he has clout and weight among the proceedings of the arena, while also having that stern sort of care that befits his status as a former medic.
This is glorious stuff. Top 10, take notes. When you have cast interactions, have them bolster your character and their storyarc, but just as you made your NPCs feel natural and necessary to your characters story, so too do the same with your cast interactions.

I'm... split on the Hargorn thing. It's pretty clear just what kind of beast he is, and what he was planning on doing with Adeen. I'm not against stories dipping into darker territory - far from it, I think it's necessary at times - but when I see a writer do so, I want to see why they're doing it. So, I have to ask the question of if this serves the story, or is done merely for shock. It's pretty clear that this serves the story, namely because Hargorn is not a character who exists in a void. He's not some tormentor NPC who just exists to terrify Adeen. Instead, his presence is key in providing motivation for Adeen to seek out Kentrith, and move her story forward. The potential evil he represents isn't added for cheap shock or fear, it's a legimately terrible thing that could happen to Adeen, which prompts her to act. So I think ultimately it works here. Just exercise restraint as you pursue this thread. I'm not against bad things happening in stories, because hey, bad things happen in real life, but handle this with care, Adeen.
Also, as an aside, the whole moment kind of confused me with this line: "Never 'ad an eye yer lot." ...wut? Never had an eye your lot? Eye on your lot? I think there's a word missing. I'm still not sure what he's getting at here.

The writing as a whole is rather fantastic. The author doesn't waste our time with repetitive description, and instead focuses on painting clear pictures with just enough holes to let the reader's imagination fill the gaps. Like this part:
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Cricken stepped clear around Adeen and vanished into the crowd. The murmurs rose into challenges, then preparations. Veterans cracked their knuckles and widened their stance. The fresh slaves huddled against one another whether they realized their cowardice or not.
Look how little time is spent on things that don't matter. Adeen looking this way or that, feeling this or that, etc. Nah, it's just "The crowd gets rowdy. Veterans are there, and the fresh blood too, and all have the same idea: they're afraid of her."

The bit with Sly was not only confusing, but I also didn't buy it. For the confusion:
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“Nire wants them sorted and trained for some stunt.”

“And are the newest painted a special color?” Adeen smiled despite herself and snuck closer.
Needed a paragraph break for Adeen's reaction. I got stuck for several minutes wondering if she'd asked that question or not, then the bit with the "kiss of mischief licked his eased conscience" I was thinking she suddenly was all up on Sly??? It was just a messy paragraph to sort out.
For the not-buying-it: yeah no, as broken as Adeen is, and just avoiding that moment with Hargorn, she's not gonna be eyein' up some other vole and sayin' "what a fine piece o' fur." Part of this is less Adeen's reaction, and more the "kiss of mischief" line, which is not only just weird and confusing (what the heck does it it even mean? Kiss... of mischief... licking(?)... his eased conscience???), but also the romantic word choices guide us in what I feel is the wrong direction.

Finally, some props for that final bit. I was worried that we were going to ditch Adeen's whole "crazy volewife" thing and just go for a simple "I guess she's good now!" storyarc. Nope. Instead, the author wisely chooses to show that she's got some hard decisions to make. Adeen is going to face... wait for it... CONFLICT. Sweet, glorious conflict! Made all the sweeter from the genuine bonds she's formed with some of the cast. I'm genuinely interested to see where she goes from here.

Wonderful work, Adeen.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on July 30, 2017, 07:38:00 PM
Tectonic

Aldridge. Buddy. We need to have a talk about post length. This is way too long, and as with Minerva, you don't need a lot of the stuff here. Look at that first third of your post, where it details his journey to the Crater. What are important moments that happen that weren't seen/implied in other posts? To my opinion, it's his conclusions on why the beasts of Madder Barrow didn't revolt (which could have been slotted into his conversation with Nire without losing anything), the bit with the weird tree machanism (showcases some of Nix's personality, but nothing of notable merit for Aldridge), and Aera sneering in pleasure/Aldridge's pumping up the crowd (the former is worthwhile only if it is meant to show that, perhaps fearfully so, she may potentially take to the horrors of the Crater with actual eagerness. Unsure if that's the case. The latter? Unnecessary).
That is 2,700 words for nothing of particular note, and anything that is could have been moved to another scene. Cut it all. The post should have begun here: "In his youth, he had served under a very different master in a very different place." We know or can reliably guess what happened to Aldridge during his journey over, so there's no need for backlogging all that information.

On the flipside, this post does do a lot to alleviate my prior concerns. How? We finally get to see what makes Aldridge tic, and moreover, see just where this may end up leading him. It's once Nire pulls out Aera. Here's the thing, I was actually a bit iffy on this moment when I first read it. Part of me worried it was more of a "hey, it worked in my first post when I had him notice stuff. I'll have him do it again!" But there's more here than just another rehash of a cool character moment. Far from him simply noticing things, this is the first time we're keyed into the fact that when Aldridge "notices everything," something changes in him. He's actually overcome by it, and right afterwards, he has his fantasy of the litany of ways he could murder Nire. Now, he pulls back from this, but this gives us our first delicious hint to a larger story to Aldridge. He's not just a beast who's got keen vision. Nah, he's a beast that when you tick him off, he can go over then edge, and go FAR. This is excellent, because immediately we the audience are wondering "what if he does let loose sometime? What happens then? What will he lose, or gain?" Yet again, it's a great moment. A word of caution to the author, it is only a great moment because of the extra depth to it. Were it just another "Aldridge lists things he notices in keen detail," then it'd fall short. Be careful how and when you use this element of Aldridge again.

I've just recently gotten into archery, so seeing the bit about him destringing the bow was both familiar and fun. Obviously, at least in a rudimentary sense, you've done your homework.

Aldridge is a quiet soul, but we're beginning to see more to him. Both in his Nire-murder-fantasies, but also is showing more of why exactly he's such a quiet soul. Notably, this is expressed to us by his observance of some psuedo-religious rites (One set of teachings[...]crossed his legs, emptied his mind, and began to breathe), which also clues us in on how a vermin hordebeast like him might have softened up to end up finding a home amongst woodlanders. This is an interesting element to his backstory--don't drop it. Especially because we see him begin to break and begin to question things (Heard himself screaming and begging and praying - he had never prayed in his life.). Don't drop this. Aldridge did something to find a form of peace, and now that's being shattered. This is has the potential to be glorious conflict. How does he make amends with the new horrors he's faced? Will he break under the strain? Will he come to a place where his old habits no longer grant him the peace he once held? These, among many other unasked questions, are all good. Don't disappoint the audience by shrugging them off and saying "eh, he's just a bowyer. Woo."

Split on the moment with the abomination. On the one hand, I appreciate the attempt to showcase Aldrdge's mindset via the odd, broken structure. On the other hand, I feel it comes in way too fast. He just looks at the thing and BOOM we go into hyper broken prose. The stuttered sentence structure at the end works best, I think. "Felt himself [...] Heard himself [...] Watched himself" Aldridge is ripped from himself at this point, and this is reflected in the writing itself. That quiet, at peace soul? Nope. Gone-zo.

Following from this, and related to my initial review, I wish there was a bit more reaction from Aldridge. Dude just had his mind broken. One of the first lines following this?
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Beasts were waking up all around him - ah. He hadn't been put back in solitary, then.
It's so casual, and robs us from truly feeling what Aldridge is feeling. Sure, we're told he shakes, but we're only told that. We don't see how it impacts his mind, his observations. And who the heck is "Not-The-Monster-Of-Mossflower"? I'm going to assume I'm just missing a reference, because at this point, I only know it's not Minerva? Why is he caring about her at all when dude just saw Squidbro 9000?

I really like the bit with the archery. You don't stress this in the post, so I'm not sure if it was planned or not, but it works because this is exactly what Nire would do. He's smart enough to not just blindly shove a beast into Horrorville. Nah, he does that with the knowledge that a beast will afterwards instantly be looking for comfort. Something to ground them. For Aldridge? It's archery, and boom, Nire's got this stoat in his paws. The door's been opened, and now Aldridge can't back out. It's a wonderful bit of manipulation.

A moment of disappointment with the bit about Nire throwing away the old bowyers. It's a great moment to have Aldridge not be shocked by the job proposal, but that Nire would just toss away beasts. Shows us where his heart is. Then Nire's all "hey death is the lesser of two evils" and Aldridge is all "K." Too late now, but I think it would have been cool for Aldridge to double down here and stand up. Have him say that he'll train the bowyers. He won't stand for Nire just tossing beasts away, and Nire just mentioned how the other master bowyers never taught any of his staff. Boom, suddenly Aldridge grasps a little bit of control, and Nire can in no way refuse a deal like that, eh? Especially now, before he's succumb (if that's at all your plan) to the workings of the Crater, Aldridge needs to push back where he can and establish himself. More importantly, be on the watch for moments like that. "Aldridge is shocked at beasts being killed! Oh, well, I guess he's okay with it now. ...??"

Throughout the post, in some cases I've already mentioned, there's a lack of clarity just what is going on with Aldridge. Things like how he isn't noticeably disoriented after the Doombeast encoutner (to us, the readers, which is the most important part). Or how he starts yucking it up with Nire and jesting slightly (though he does catch himself falling victim to this, look at the context. The very previous line before he jokes about how old he is? "Aldridge took a page from Ulrich's book and tried very hard to glare Nire to death." No way would he shift that fast. Nire must disarm him mentally before he can begin to fall under Nire's influence.). Or why he is teaching one of his enemies valuable combat maneuvers (yes, we see that it puts him at ease, but I'd like to see more of why he decides to do this. Does he use the move out of reflex, and then realizes he's perhaps made the bad decision, only to later feel at ease when he trains with her? Does he purposefully train her just to get the day's events out of his mind? Etc.)
I want to be more in the moment with Aldridge. Feel what he's feeling. Experience what's roaring through his mind. Understand the thoughts plaguing and comforting him.

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The ferret asked him about life down South in the olden days as a little dig about his age, and he asked about life up North in the olden days as a little dig about hers.

Just kiss alrea--wait no. You're not Komi! *gasp* Treachery! Aldridge! How could you?! =P

Whew. That was a lot. I write this much because Aldridge is - in potential - one of my favorite characters in the cast. He's a fantastic character, but part of me worries that sometimes it's more on accident than on purpose. That's not a ding against your ability as an author, Aldridge, as you continue to show a deft handle over wordplay. Consider it a warning to be more clear with your direction. Your fellow authors will help you with this--ask them for help, and they'll give it.

I very much look forward to seeing where you take Aldridge from here.

--- --- ---

As an aside, the deadline is tonight, Top 10. I know it can be hard to meet these deadlines, but I also know how frustrating it is to have your post ready and you're forced to wait for one of your authors to finish posting theirs up. While I understand this, you all should also understand this is a contest. It'll be clear to the audience who is holding up the process, and while it may not influence my votes this round, know that I'm keeping my eye out for future rounds.

To be more clear, in proper Blunt Tooley fashion: get your posts out on time in the following weeks, or face the vote of the yonder Tooley beast. I would rather have a worse character who gets their posts done on time than an author who can't keep up with the pace.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 01, 2017, 08:50:20 AM
Virtue and Terror

My thoughts on Silas remain largely the same. The writing is very solid without any notable slip-ups, and his moment with Adeen was nicely executed. Shows they have a common goal and hatred of the yonder gentry. Everything here is good, just none of it really pops out and grabs hold of my attention.

Props, on the other hand, for the short post. A relief to read something sharp and to-the-point after Aldridge's huge post (sorry, bud).

Here's my issue with Silas. And Nire says it himself:
Quote
Vulpuz, it gets a little old. And no creativity. No pizazz. At least you could have tried something with a little more style.
He's spot on. I already said before there's nothing wrong with a traditional revenge story. This is true. However, it can't be the only thing to the character. Silas' revenge story is very straightforward, and while I do feel for the guy, it lacks "pizazz." What more is there to Silas beyond his hatred of Blasio? Hatred of the elites in general, I suppose, but it all runs along the same line. "Silas hates [X] and wants to kill/stop them." Yes, he now has the whole "I'm going to survive, no matter what" thing, but that's everyone's arc. Of course they want to survive. It's not that he lacks the motivation, because he has that down in spades, he just lacks spice. Style. Pizazz.

Silas is a very solid character, and I do enjoy reading him, but I also find myself forgetting that he's a presence in the story. When I think of the Top 10, I usually have to remind myself "oh yeah, Silas is in there too." Find a way to fix that. Make me remember Silas, and get me excited to read his next post, and the post after that. Find ways of introducing meaty conflict for the readers to sink their teeth into. Get us enthralled and cheering for this character, rather than looking at him the same way Nire does: "A competent assassin, with no reason to care further."
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 01, 2017, 09:38:40 AM
Desperation and Inspiration

Not feeling the nightmare. It's every story nightmare I've ever read. "Blood, and beasts in the distance who you try to reach, but you can't move or speak. Look at how metaphorical this all is, and how convenient." The only interesting part? It ends with him being swallowed up, not her. That perks my interest.

So I like Komi. I like Aldridge. ...why don't I like it whenever they talk to each other? That's a rhetorical question, because I think I know why. Look at how melodramatic each of these characters become when they're around one another. Example:
Quote
“Komi! What happened?” Aldridge asked loudly, his voice edged on panic.

Red walls above. Red blood below. Screams. Cries. Arrows. Not enough going up. Far too many coming down.

“Komi! Please! What’s wrong?” Aldridge begged. “Please tell me what happened!”

It's less about what happens then how it happens. Look at Aldridge. This isn't Aldridge. Not quiet soul, meditation-stoat Aldridge. Him begging, him constantly asking "please," how five of his seven sentences begin with him saying her name. Furthermore, none of the dialogue here communicates the history that these two share. Aldridge's lines could be said by any character to anyone else in trouble.

Furthermore, any time these two are on-screen together, the story immediately locks into a single tone, and never shifts from it--strained, melodramatic distance. It gets tiring quickly, because there is never any progress. When the scene begins to when it ends, Komi and Aldridge will do and say one thing over and over just in different ways. "Let me help." "No." "Please let me help." "But [vague hints to past events]." "But I want to help!" "[Angry response.]"

I really like these two characters, which makes their interactions so disappointing. My suggestion? Stop focusing on the melodrama, on the cliche strains of a past relationship. Focus instead upon their actions and reactions to one another. Instead of having Aldridge show up and start begging at her, what could he do that shows his concern and care, that befits his personality (with the water barrel, does he offer a cup that he has that Komi doesn't? Does he try and put a comforting arm on her shoulder?) And with Komi, instead of her maintaining one single note of bitterness and constantly be winking at the audience with vague notions of what happened in the past, how can she act and react to Aldridge? Something that shows their history, where their relationship stands, and fits her personality (making sure to shoulder him whenever he tries to approach her, or perhaps disabling him with a weak spot that she knows of, etc.).
And if they talk, have them actually talk to one another. Don't dip your quill into the easily-accessible ink pot of drama tropes. If Komi's not at a point to talk to him, then great, use that to inform their character conflict! What if she has to seek him out and talk to him about something? What's a normal conversation look like between them, both before and after they've made amends?

Right, let's move on. Because I really liked her interaction with Kentrith. Similar to what I praised in Adeen's post, this both enhances Komi as a character and enriches Kentrith. She now has a direction to pursue, and we get to see as well that Kentrith may be willing to risk himself to help beasts he doesn't even know much about. On my first read, for some reason I thought she was looking at the doorway leading into access tunnels when Kentrith grabbed at her. This would have made his "hint" at the end all the better, since it would have been the perfect blend of specificity (she wasn't looking at the scorpion pit at all, so why mention it?) and context (but she is looking at the door, so he's pushing her in the right direction). On a second look, seems like I was a bit wrong, and the hint comes a bit more out of the blue. Still works, though, since now as a reader I'm in the same position as Komi. Is the scorpion chamber a way out, or certain doom? And just like Komi, I want to find out, because this may just be here ticket home.

And this line?
Quote
“I’m not running anywhere.”

Hapley snorted a laugh, “Aye, and tell me another.
This is fantastic. This is what's missing from Komi and Aldridge's dialogue. Cutting straight past the fluff. Kentrith doesn't need to say "why are you lying to me?" when he already knows she is. He's learned enough and smart enough to know when a beast lies, and reacts accordingly. In a way, he knows Komi enough to have his dialogue be this focused and insightful. It's great stuff, so big props for this whole interaction.

Also, the scorpions are cool. I wasn't sure exactly what "other creatures" Nire would have, and if they'd be weird or not, but dang the scorpions are a good addition. Perfect blend of monstrous and dangerous. Can't wait to see what part them play in the story, and furthermore, how Komi learns more about them.

An overall good post, dripping with a bit too much sap and melodrama for my tastes. Bring it back down to earth, Komi. You show a good handle over snappy, sharp conversation with Kentrith, I just think your mind is probably focused too far in the future with Aldridge. Show us interesting conversation with him in the here and now, rather than waiting for that inevitable moment that will bring the two closer/further apart later in the story.

Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 01, 2017, 10:25:22 AM
Haunted

So after that first post, Kentrith was in my bottom three. Definitely lined up on the chopping block for the upcoming rounds. A shame, since I loved his app quite a bit.

...which is why I am so happy with this post. This is how you recover from a bad post/week, gents and gentesses! Not only does this mend all the issues I raised with that first post, it also gets me actually excited once more to see where our dear medic fox is gonna go in the story, and what he'll do. Let's hop right in.

The bit with Hargorn may seem like empty conflict at first, but I think there's a ton of potential here. It shows that Kentrith isn't exactly trusted among the Crater staff. This, of course, matters once we get to the end of the post and realize what Kentrith's plan even is. So right from the very start, Kentrith's author offers us a vision of future conflict, rooted against the actions the character will be performing. Excellent.

The Aldridge bit is a little weird. Did Aldridge seriously not realize he swiped a spoon? And why he lashing out like this? Similar to my criticisms with Komi, it seems out of character given his soft disposition. And then his response afterwards with "pretend it's a knife." If he got angry enough to assault Crater staff in broad public, then surely he wouldn't be shrugging his shoulders and saying "WELP." On the flipside, I do like Kentrith's response. How he waves off the issue like it was expected. He's going to need to be careful with that tender heart he has for the slaves--not all of them are as good-natured as Aldridge, as I'm sure he knows.

I'm not crazy about flashback inserts in posts, but in this case, I'll make an exception. Chugging further down the "Kentrith is Awesome Again" train, we finally get to see a little about what happened to Kentrith after he first left the arena. FAR more importantly is the Abbot's question to Kentrith: "What dead flesh needs to be cut away?" First off, this is spot on with how I picture a wise, kindly Redwall Abbot to sound. Gently turning a beast's own worldview around so that they look at their life from a different perspective. Second off, we begin to see a theme being built around Kentrith's character. What drives him, what he fears, and better yet, the author also gives us the why to both of those answers.
The scene structure itself is also excellent. We're thrust into the moment with enough details so that we're not confused, but we don't fully understand what's going on until Kentrith names the mouse as "Father Abbot."

The Nix bit contrasts Hargorn well. It's good to see Kentrith be "comfortable" around another beast. Someone who understands him, and someone who he understands. I'm not crazy on Nix's character, since she's been a puddle of meh to my mind so far, but this is the first moment where I legitimately felt there was something more to her. Namely because she's actually having a solid interaction with a cast member.

And good golly, that Marik scene with the touchdown play. BOOM. Everything I criticized in the first post has been exploded and voided. We know exactly why Kentrith has returned, we know exactly why the fights still pain him despite his participation, we know exactly why this matters to him. Furthermore, we care, because Marik isn't just some pity-party stand in for the audience to "Awww." over. Why? Because Kentrith has a history with this child, but moreover, that history makes sense. Of course the medic would gravitate to a disabled beast. Kentrith was distant even with Bothan, so we needed to see him interact with someone he genuinely cares about. See him soft and vulnerable.

Biggest thing from that scene? I now know where Kentrith is going in the story. He's a game-changer and a play-maker. Don't let that slip from your fingertips, Kentrith. Make use of that, because you just made a heck of a save.

It's not all sunshine and rainbows. There are several sentences and moments that are ungainly in their structure. Like when Marik first notices Kentrith. Calls him Happy, stumps over and gives him a big hug. It's all very sweet, very tender. Then the next line he says? "I’m not in the ring, or amongst the other beasts who work here," Amongst? Eh? It's a huge verbal leap from our initial impression of him. He's obviously not a dolt, given how he instructs the children, but it's a step too far. Moments like that splatter across the post, but for this review, I'm not going to focus on them, because I think the author deserves far more praise.

Well done, Kentrith. You made it back to my top 5, and being frank, from that first post I worried you didn't have it in you. So good on you for provin' ol' Tooley wrong.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 01, 2017, 09:19:22 PM
Pretty much my final night to post up reviews, so gonna try and speedrun through these. Hoping to high heaven none of you wrote another 8k post.

Entry of the Gladiators

Gosh, you have such a handle over humorous tone. Your posts are hilarious, Kali. And once more, that excellent use of comedic contrast with the "By the stars, I did/didn't kill him!" It'd waste too much time to list all the moments, but suffice it to say, you very quickly put a smile onto my face, and it stayed there for some time. Very well done.

Quote
“Nooooooo. He’s still alive. I think.”
Yeahhh that sounds nothing like Nire.

Quote
Slowly Nire’s teeth grew longer,[...]and bit off her head…

I let out an audible "da heeccckkk?" And, in relation to my above point... I think this fixes it. That whole thing was a dream, so the fact that Nire sounds almost more like Kali is actually rather brilliant. Solid use of foreshadowing, though the execution was still a little odd on my first read.

Quote
allowing the wearer to show off as much of their midriff as these parts considered decent… enough.
I dunno, I just never think of Redwall characters as having to even worry about this stuff. It's not really a criticism, but this does stand out as a little weird to me. Same thing with a moment in your first post, where she was hanging upside down and worried about her outfit flipping up and being revealing? Just don't see a reason to even bother mentioning it.

Quote
Slowly and with restraint Kali held the broken lute above the waste basket. Covering her eyes with a wing, she summoned the courage to let the instrument drop.
Took her a week to do that, eh?

As I'm continuing to read this, I realize that I get a sort of early-age, Lucasarts adventure game vibe from all of Kali's posts. The "I followed you" bit almost sounds like it could be right out of Monkey Island or something. It's one of the reasons Kali's posts are so charming--that have that classical whimsy and humor to them. Not really tinged with the bitter sarcasm that reigns in today's comedy.

Quote
“Nooooooo.” Aldridge backed away, shaking his paws at the bat. “No no no no. I am fairly certain that thing feeds on fear.”

Bleh, I take it back on the Nire thing above. Be careful with how you write other characters, Kali. None of the other cast would ever talk like this. This is strictly Kali-speak. The whole bit with them wandering around, while initially humorous, does run its course very quickly. I'm already wanting them to hurry up and actually do something. In fact, by the end of it, I'm wondering what the whole point of it was. They literally just waste time. So why waste mine as well? The only thing that comes of the moment is we get to see Aldridge is still spooked by Tentabro.

Quote
Tenderly he reached out to her shoulder, “Kali…” he began.

Just kiss already.

Okay, so at the end of all this, I'm kind of left saying "this was fun. ...what was the point?" Sure, Kali's "The Silly Beast," but you already have such potential set up with her character. The push and pull between success and artistry being a notable one. Sure, things happen in this post (her singing "successfully" and making some progress with Baxter) but none of it really matters. At least at this moment. Look at how it ends. Her jaw drops. ...and? So what does she actually do? I'm sure you're planning on answering that next round, but you need to be careful you don't leave the actual meat of your posts out until your next post, since that's a fast way to getting voted off.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 01, 2017, 10:08:12 PM
Business for a Busy Beast

...whaaat was that beginning? Suddenly, there's an escape plan? That's Sly's a part of? What the heck? Where did this come from? I kept waiting for it to be a joke, or for the rat to be shown to be a total nutcase who Sly is just manipulating.

Your Blasio is consistently amazing. I failed to make mention of how great his dialogue was in your last post, and it continues to be wonderful here.
Quote
I’m just too small for you to notice me.”

“Ah yes, you certainly are,” Blasio grinned.
Glorious.

There's... not really a lot to say about this post. The dialogue is still good, but everything that happens is exactly what I thought would happen (save for that out-of-nowhere opening). Sly bets on the fight, because of course he does. The bit with him digging dirt on the competition is nice, I suppose, but it's just a dollop of dressing on a huge salad. I know nothing more about Sly than I did in his first place, and beyond a few minor things, he's also not doing anything more than in his first post.

I know this is short. Sorry, there just isn't anything more I can say. I think we need to get some more meat on Sly in these next rounds, and soon. His gab shtick is already wearing thin on me.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 01, 2017, 10:51:12 PM
Don't Lose Your Head

Shorter review here since this one went up after the deadline. Get these up early, mates! (This will not apply to Thrayjen, who I can tell had his post done and was just waiting.)

So this is better than his first post. I wasn't annoyed by Kentigern, and his bit with Minerva was nice. Doesn't really compel me to see where his story goes, but at least dude's not a jerk anymore. I can see the author tried hard to deal with some of the issues I raised (Minerva asking why he ditched his family, him working more with Thrayjen, etc). Some are executed better than others, but it's definitely a start and provides a more interesting path for Kentigern to pursue.

...the heck? He just trips and gets beat up at the end? I have to presume this is mended in Thrayjen's followup. I won't ding you too hard for this, as I imagine you plotted closely with Thrayjen, Kentigern, but it was a rather lackluster end to the post.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 02, 2017, 08:18:30 AM
Chest Out

Why doesn't Ripfang just kill Thrayjen? Heck, he even pummels Thray with "the butt end of his sickles" and has enough time to drive a knee into the rat. I suppose he could be "toying with his prey" in a way, as that fits the motif of the arena, but perhaps a clue that that is what Rip is doing would have helped.

Quote
and vaulted up, using the handle to raise himself above and over Ripfang.
On the one hand, I like this show of acrobatics. Fits the visual vibe I wanted out of the arena fights. On the other hand, with all the times in Thray's first post that we were reminded "he's a big rat," how can he manage this with such ease?

Was very confused in this fight following Kentigern's post. I kept waiting for a moment when Thrayjen saw how vulnerable and in danger Kentigern was, but it's nothing more than a super brief aside. Further confusion was added when he runs over and grabs his net, but... the net is tangled up in Kentigern's feet. A: how'd he get the net so easily? B: if he got the net, why didn't he help Kentigern who's getting pummeled right next to him.

Glad the extremely odd bit of Kentigern getting mad is addressed. I was befuddled at first, given how during all the prior posts he demanded Thrayjen stay back. It works, though, as Kentigern is of the disposition to be a wild hypocrite like that. Moreover, we get that moment where Thrayjen stands up for himself, which was necessary.

That leads me to probably the most notable aspect of this post: Thrayjen is thoroughly thrown off his balance. Look at everything he does. He nearly kills a beast after insisting he won't fight. He snaps at Kentigern despite bearing so much the day before. He gets smashed drunk despite knowing Nan wouldn't like to see him like this. This is good. It promises that Thrayjen will have some trials to face in the future. I would still like to get a vibe for what story the author is actually going to be telling with Thrayjen, though. While I enjoy his interactions, they feel a little bit lost. Like they're detached from a bigger picture. This is a case where I think Thrayjen could take a bit of inspiration from Silas. We all know what Silas' overarching story is: revenge. I don't know what Thrayjen's is. There's a bit with him mentioning how it's not the first time he's been in chains. I think that could be a good place to delve deeper into, and find out how that history informs and guides his actions here in the now.

Overall, a good showing from Thrayjen. Mends some of the concerns I had with his first post, though I will want to see why I should cheer or root for Thrayjen beyond just his personality. What's he fighting (literally or figuratively) for? Why should I care? Etc.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Kentigern MacRaff on August 02, 2017, 11:32:52 AM
Hey Tooley, quick note to clear things up: the net isn't actually tangled up at Kentigern's feet— Raggabrash actually tossed it away from their fist fight in my post.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 02, 2017, 12:18:37 PM
Ahh. That's what happens when I read too fast. Thanks for clearing that up, Kentigern. I appreciate the correction.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 02, 2017, 01:18:50 PM
Still Standing

This is a dang fine show of some well-written combat. A little long, perhaps, but what's there all works very well, from Minerva's study of her opponent, to her tricks, to the moment with the fishhook. It's engaging, we get to see Minerva in all her cunning, and there's enough going on that the fight never gets boring. Very, very well done.

I wonder if that bit at the end is to imply she building a resistance/immunity to the darts.

Short review since this one went up late, but a good showing from you, Minerva.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 02, 2017, 01:23:52 PM
Death Follows Close Behind

So Komi's escape attempt failed. I'm a little mixed on this post. There's nothing wrong with it, it's just that it takes 2k words to tell us one thing: her plan failed. "But Tooley, what about Minerva's post! That was only one thing--her fighting!" Yes, but look at what it did for Minerva's character. She's taken on the mantle of the Monster of Mossflower Woods, the crowd loves her, and she's step further along on her character arc. With Komi, on the other hand, while the action of her failed escape happens, it doesn't advance her character arc any further.

There is hope, given that she's tied up to a woodlander, but word of caution to Komi's writer: mix things up. I've already seen Komi hate and snarl at and ignore and be a jerk to woodlanders. I'm not saying you suddenly make her warm up to Minerva, but don't just play the same record over and over. I'm rather interested to see how/if they work together in their predicament.

A decent post. Does what it sets out to do, but little more. I'm hoping to see more depth from Komi next round.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 02, 2017, 02:04:24 PM
ROUND ONE RECAP

Ladies an' gents, we've reached the end of Round One! A big round of applause to our bloody showbeasts for truckin' through an' getting all these posts out there. We had some laughs, some shocks, some gasps, some disappointments, but more than anything, I think we all had a ton of fun, both as readers and writers. Every single one of you should be proud for stickin' with it, gettin' your posts done, and holding them out to be read and excoriated reviewed by the readership. This woozle is proud o' yew all.

To celebrate, I figured I'd list a few awards for the Top 10. Some will be good, some will be bad. Will the categories remain the same every round? Who kno~ows? So without further adieu, let's get started with:

FAVORITE POST
Some very good ones to choose from. Adeen's were all incredibly sharply written, Komi's first post was unexpected and a great part of the intro to the contest, and Kali's posts legitimately made me laugh a ton. But ultimately, I have to give this one to Kentrith. The turnaround on his part was such a shocker, and really can't be emphasized enough. Not only that, his post is full of some pretty dang good qualities. Is it perfect? No. There are some ungainly qualities that hamper it here and there (the random, center-justified flashback with the otter. Aldridge's weirdness. Etc.), but overall, a very good showing worth honoring.

I hope everyone takes a page from Kentrith's book. Every lackluster post can be followed up with a great one if you challenge yourself and leap right in.

FAVORITE NPC
Blasio is a hoot, Blue had some interesting interactions with Thrayjen and Aldridge, and Baxter suddenly intrigues me with Kali's second post implying a softness to him (har. Softness in floofy). Gonna give this one to Hargorn, though. He's a complete and utter debased scumbag, and Adeen deserves huge props for executing his character so well. I'm worried whenever this guy is on screen. He feels like a legitimate force to be reckoned with, just simply because he's that evil. Very interested to see what this guy does throughout the story, and if/when he'll get his comeuppance.

BIGGEST LETDOWN
This one is easy. Aldridge and Komi's relationship. It's been nothing but vague platitudes, and I have yet to grasp why either of them even care about one another. Sure, they have history... what is that history? No clue. I want to start seeing some more of that history. Whether this is as rough as hard insert flashbacks (don't do this, please), or little details like one knowing the other hates/loves a particular food or song or something, I don't care. Just something, because I love these two stoats on their own.

THE SAFE PILE
Our final section. I'm about to cast my vote, but before that, I am going to list my current top five. These beasts are safe from this woozle's vote, at least, and represent who I look forward to reading the most as the story continues on. This is in no particular order, so check your ego, number one. =P

1. Kali
2. Adeen
3. Aldridge
4. Kentrith
5. Minerva

And with that, we're straight into the final hours of the vote for the contestants! If I can just say one thing to all who vote: provide reasons. There is nothing worse than getting a vote from someone, and not having a clue what you did wrong. Is it just a taste thing? Did they see some massive flaw with the post? Do they hate the character, and if so, why?

Even if it's just a few sentences, take the time to say why you're voting, so that the author has a chance to mend the mistake in the following round.

Best of luck, mates. =)
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Silas Hetherton on August 02, 2017, 02:27:09 PM
"Safe" is a relative term.  :evil:
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: foxpen on August 02, 2017, 02:30:24 PM
Wooooow Tooley! Damn, man, you Cray Cray, rocking these reviews like a machine! Inspires me to do another reading or two...
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Vizon on August 02, 2017, 02:36:01 PM
Indeed! It's a lot to get through in the time alotted. Truthfully, I haven't even read through them all myself. So kudos.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Kali on August 02, 2017, 02:49:53 PM
Oh, I totally let that number one spot go to my head.

Thank you for the reviews Tooly! You powered through those reviews like a champ! Thank you for the reviews on all our characters!
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 02, 2017, 06:09:43 PM
"Safe" is a relative term.  :evil:

No one is safe. Everyone gets voted off, round one. Nire wins. Flawless victory.

Thanks for the appreciation, mates! And you're most welcome, Kali. It was my pleasure, and I'm very much excited to see where you all take the story. Hope you guys are having fun writing and plotting behind the scenes!
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 11, 2017, 11:36:15 AM
ROUND TWO. HERE WE GO. WOO.

Born and Raised

The intro is a perfect example of Adeen's character as a whole. It's full of color, it's vivid, the characters are fun to read, but there are still questions and oddities that come up that trip me as I read her posts. Why are we suddenly following two rats? Who is the white mouse? Eventually, all these oddities are resolved and answered, but in the moment of that first read they prompt confusion that staggers my read of an otherwise wonderful bit of writing.

The sharp writing that has characterized Adeen continues here, and we get to see yet further sides of the vole. The scene with Fable was particularly well done, as we get to really see her motherly qualities come out. Particularly of interest is how she doesn't comfort Fable with hugs or words, but with art. With distraction. While a sweet gesture, it's also a very "distant" method of comfort, which fits Adeen's character to a T. I agree with Crue about Kentrith's appearance taking too long, given his last post ended with him pretty much right on Adeen's heels, but I'm willing to forgive the oddity for what the scene tells of us Adeen.

On the note of the oddities, though, there are several that crop up that just had me going "...wut?" Some of it is simply in the description, which leads me to pause and be confused. See:
Quote
the mouse picked up an embalming jar and smashed it upside Adeen's head, the vole thought of GUOSIM cutters breaching the foam of The Great Sea.
...wut? What prompts this thought? Sure, she's just been socked and her head is going on the fritz from the impact, sure, but what's the audience supposed to take from this? Why is a vole thinking of GUOSIM? The Great Sea? Huh???

Other bits are more problematic, where the oddities end up casting confusion on the plot and character. Like the bit at the end of the scene with Fable.
Quote
ThreeForCanen

Two. Fourteen. More.
...wut? Her somehow seeing the Three for Canen words is already a little bit confusing, but I can buy it, given Adeen's general weirdness when she spazzes out. But the following bit? What the heck does two or fourteen mean??? Like, was she going to kill Fable? How is she even getting that from the message--I'm sure it doesn't mean "kill just any three," and again, what on earth is two and fourteen? Adeen has moments of craziness, but at times like this, I can't even follow what's going on with her mind, and thus end up detached from the moment.

On the note of the sharp writing, though, Adeen continues to impress. No other author has quite the full grasp of showcasing the culture of the Crater. We see its debauchery without it being schlocky (yonder ferret bed creakers), we see its impact and influence on beasts such as Muda and the white mouse, and all of it with a very capable voice that - as I mentioned before - doesn't waste the audience's time. Take the description of the underbelly:
Quote
The Crater's lowest tier, behind and beneath the arena itself, served as a nexus for the ugly beasts in Nire's employ. Scorpion handlers more feral than their charges, butchers of the fallen, and false priests delivering last rites to still-alive losers. All packed into the unnamed strip of shadow and stone in The Crater's underbelly.
Do we need to bother with describing how long the underbelly is? How far apart the walls are? How many beasts exactly there are? No, because those are unnecessary details when it comes to painting a picture. With just this, I instantly have a picture of what the place looks like, what sort of beasts are there, and what they're doing. It's great stuff, and serves as a contrast to the sometimes-wonky description.

Also, a small point, but I like how Kentrith's handling of ne'er-do-wells is the same every time. He grips Adeen's collar, and he grips the ferrets' collars. A small touch that shows consistency of character.

And, as another aside, Marik sounds a bit off. Maybe he's more eloquent than my first impression suggested, but reading this line: "Interrupting would've done this troublemaker a kindness." just strikes me as a bit much. Doesn't sound like a fifteen year-old who's spent a large majority of his life caring for children in seclusion. In fact, sounds more like Adeen than anything. Be careful of the voices of the characters you write. Many of them do sound somewhat similar - dry, stoic, serious - which I think fits a great many of them (Adeen, Aldridge, the white mouse, Kentrith, etc.), but be sure to mix things up a bit.

Hurrah! More Aldridge! Always fun to see him and Adeen interact, though I wonder what he's doing in the underbelly of the Crater, given his whole stint with Kali made it clear he hates the place. His whole aside about redemption - especially as viewing the Crater in utilitarian value ("The Crater could be useful.") - is wayyy out of left field, though. That's not a slam against Adeen's author, but it better be explained in Aldridge's post, if this is the quest and direction he's set his character on.

Overall, a solid post. I don't feel like it necessarily gripped me, but part of that is because it mostly served to introduce some new concepts. I'm not sure if the twist of the dagger/message being meant for someone else is worthwhile, but it grants immediate conflict that Adeen must face. In some ways, I feel this is an extension of the previous post, where Adeen learns some new things, has a direction, and sets off. Word of caution to her author: begin having things happen, and don't get so caught up in introducing more and more new concepts. As one of my favorite writing axioms goes: build deep, not wide.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 11, 2017, 10:14:49 PM
Tug of War

Watch out for unnecessary bits of your description that clog up the pace. Take this part, for example:
Quote
[...]before pressing herself up to her elbows on the cold stone floor so she could get a better look at her new surroundings.

As she feared, she was in a cell somewhere[...]
The "so she...surroundings" part is completely unnecessary. She pushes herself up, and then in the immediate following paragraph, she talks about her surroundings, so that particular bit just wastes time telling the audience what she's going to do right before she does it. It's a similar problem here:
Quote
Built out of the floor beside it was a stone water trough and the otterwife licked her dry lips, realizing she hadn't had anything to drink since long before her battle with Hammerpaw.
I understand the thought process at work here. You want to make sure the audience is clear on what the character is doing and why, but don't be afraid to be a bit looser with your writing. She licks her lips, this is following the fight with Hammerpaw and right after she wakes up. Trust the reader to make that connection on their own, because all these inserts just take the reader out from the moment and remind us we're reading a story.

I like the introduction of the Sigils. It's a small little touch to the world that makes sense, feels grounded, but is also a cool little treat to see unfold--finding out what everyone's Sigils are, what it says about them, how it ties into the whole merchandise aspect of the Crater being a show, etc. Love it.

The dialogue as well is fairly sharp and on point. Nire in particular is written very well, with a ton of little mannerisms that help to accentuate his flair and character (though I wonder why a beast needs to lick their claw to turn a page. Doesn't quite work like a finger, though the motion serves well to convey a bit of character and pizzazz.) Really enjoyed his back-and-forth with Minerva.

A few moments made me quirk up my eyebrow. Let's look at one.
Quote
And with that trick of yours against Hammerpaw, let's just say you made a lot of beasts lose a lot of money,
Eh? It's the Culling. It's not about killing Hammerpaw, or even fighting. He was just "processing" the newbies. What doofus would be betting on that at all? *keeps reading* oh
Quote
Blasio Timberfell, one of my associates, has called for your death. He was hit particularly hard by the results of that match,
...what a doofus. There's not even any money to be made on betting on that. Perhaps I missed something, but this didn't strike me at all like the match between Kent/Thrayjen and the other two. It's just a process, not a gamble. It's not really a major critique, but one of those "...eh?" moments.

Oh ho, but I love Nire's little plan with tying Minerva to Komi. A wonderful bit of conflict! Like I've said in regards to Adeen's post, this is how you do cast interaction. Minerva is challenged by the conflict and will have to learn to trust Komi, but Komi's character is enriched as well. She simply can't afford the melancholy melodrama anymore, and has to start taking this seriously. More than that, it's not at all contrived. Nire's reasoning makes perfect sense, and apart from this being a compelling character conflict, it's also dang compelling for the audience as well. How are they going to fight when chained together? Will they manage to trust one another? What if one of them does die? These questions get me pumped for what lies in the future. An excellent moment, Minerva.

The conversation with Fable, while tender, seems a bit odd. Why on earth doesn't Minerva ask about Adeen? Like... at all? It was a huge moment in Adeen's post, and moreover, a bit moment for Fable. Some random volemaid comes up and starts comforting her and stitching a flower and asking about her mother? She didn't think to mention that to her mother? The only bit in the slightest that mentions it is:
Quote
A quick look at her paw revealed that Fable had finished their stitching of the lily. The otterwife had given her daughter her reminder, and now she had one of her own.
...eh? Minerva didn't give anything. Adeen did for her. It's a wasted moment that kills the momentum set forth in Adeen's post. A shame.

Overall, a good look into Minerva's character. We don't really learn anything new about her, nor does she do anything particularly gripping, but I give huge props for that wonderful setup with Komi. It really is a stroke of genius, and I am very interested to see where she goes from here.

Word of warning, though? I'm dinging points for how long this took to get out. It was nearly a week between rounds, and this took three-and-a-half days to follow Adeen's post. This isn't the first time things have been held up, Minerva. You need to step it up and get the cogs turning faster. Being blunt because this is a contest, and these things matter. I recommend drafting your Round 3 post now so that you can have it out bright and early next time, especially because you seem to be building up to a mighty fine followup post.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Minerva on August 11, 2017, 10:52:29 PM
Thank you for the review, Tooley, but I'm about to argue with you about one thing.

Quote
Word of warning, though? I'm dinging points for how long this took to get out. It was nearly a week between rounds, and this took three-and-a-half days to follow Adeen's post. This isn't the first time things have been held up, Minerva. You need to step it up and get the cogs turning faster. Being blunt because this is a contest, and these things matter. I recommend drafting your Round 3 post now so that you can have it out bright and early next time, especially because you seem to be building up to a mighty fine followup post.

This is the kind of statement that gets me votes when I didn't do anything to deserve them. First thing's first, my life is not this contest. Sometimes things come up that prevent me from writing, or I simply don't want to write over the voting period because it's my chance to take a break and merely plot with the other writers. The voting period was longer, yes, but I spent it working on things behind the scenes rather than writing for the story.

Second, in no way have I held anything up this round. I posted "Tug of War" 3 days into the round, and only Aldridge has posted after me (as of this posting). No one has been waiting on me. Everyone has been writing diligently. Sometimes things take time, and 4000 words in 3 days is not a bad showing for an amateur writer.

Lastly, I'm not going to draft my Round 3 post now, because I'm not confirmed for Round 3. Drafting my post now creates the expectation to my fellow contestants that I will survive the round, which can and does influence their voting. It is simply not fair, and I refuse to do it. I will begin to draft my Round 3 post when the results of Round 2 are posted, no sooner.

Apologies if I'm being harsh, but truly, this comment really bothered me, especially when the wait truly wasn't long. The wait for "The Monster of Mossflower Woods" certainly was. It took a week from Aldridge's posting to get that post up, and I certainly deserved the criticism there. But three days? Absolutely not. I'm simply not accepting that criticism.

Sorry if I'm in a bad mood but-

Quote
I understand the thought process at work here. You want to make sure the audience is clear on what the character is doing and why, but don't be afraid to be a bit looser with your writing. She licks her lips, this is following the fight with Hammerpaw and right after she wakes up. Trust the reader to make that connection on their own, because all these inserts just take the reader out from the moment and remind us we're reading a story.

Quote
Quote
A quick look at her paw revealed that Fable had finished their stitching of the lily. The otterwife had given her daughter her reminder, and now she had one of her own.
...eh? Minerva didn't give anything. Adeen did for her. It's a wasted moment that kills the momentum set forth in Adeen's post. A shame.

Minerva told Fable that everytime she saw a fishhook it was a reminder that her mother was fighting to save her. I include the first quote because you asked me to be loose, and I was, but you didn't understand.

All of your other criticisms are sound, and I appreciate the insight.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 15, 2017, 01:01:22 PM
I apologize for my absence, everyone. My family had an emergency that demanded my attention and time. Things have leveled out, and the worst has been avoided.

Beasts of Burden

So I'll just say from the start to relieve you that I really enjoyed this post, Aldridge. Finally, we see some significant moments with Aldridge, as well a burgeoning character arc. Let's hit the highlights for the good and bad.

Huge props for the songs. It's a Redwall tradition, and I give authors particular kudos when they attempt it in their own works. Even more when the songs are good, which these two - for the most part - are. The song with Cricken is sweet, and really helps to establish the emotional connection and loss that Aldridge suffers as he watches the child die. And I absolutely love the imagery and word pictures within that second song. Particularly: "The tomb door is the gate, you see" and "Mouth closed in dust and opened, see In new-grown unimagined beauty." Wonderful. It has just the right amount of dramatic prose within it but never feels cheap or hollow.
Though, I will note some of your syllables are off in the rhyme scheme. In the second song, every line but two are eight syllables long (...trapped or free, and ...unimagined beauty. Seven and nine respectively). A small note, but one to keep in mind for the future, as it does hinder the flow of these otherwise lovely songs.

Love Aldridge's conversations in this post, both with the NPC's and the cast mates. Each one of them shows us a lot to Aldridge's character, and they're just genuinely good moments. The singing with Cricken (showcasing his sensitivity), his bearing Kali's singing to hear the heart of the song (related to his own experience of beasts looking past the initial first impression), his tender moment of looking at a brighter future with Komi (his hope of a future, and the first genuine moment between the two that I've read so far), and his talk with Tegue (ties into Aldridge's theme of expectations vs. reality, but moreover, also hints at this whole "the Crater can be redeemed" arc).
But the Ulrich conversation? Dang man, that whole bit is on point. Through a natural bit of conversation, you confront and address all of the issues that have plagued Aldridge so far in the contest. Aldridge has made gambles. Stupid ones. And following that tie last week, he is lucky. Unsure if intended, but the meta commentary through Ulrich's dialogue was excellent. As if he's the audience slapping Aldridge in the face and telling him to get his act in order, but it's not just a cheap trick, since the author even ties that into Aldridge's history (with Aera being the one to slap sense into him before). Sharp dialogue, addressing past issues, and promising a direction for this stoat--fantastic.

The only interaction I'll say I was "meh" on was Adeen. There's that bit where she mentions adding them to the list of greats, but otherwise it's just "Aldridge heals Adeen." Not a lot of bang for one's buck, as it were. I was waiting for Adeen to ask why he saved her, why he cares, etc. Especially since she has misgivings about him--it was the perfect time to probe deeper into Aldridge's psyche. Boo for the missed opportunity for some yet deeper interaction, but the rest of the chapter more than makes up for it.

There are some stumbles in the flow here and there. Odd formatting choices, such as Kali's: "She squeaked. "I... what?"" Why is squeaked italicized? And then there's when Aera talks in the beginning:
Quote
“Nothing else there, she’ll be all right. [...] And when you’re done, she’s to stay there overnight.”
This bit could seriously benefit from a few breaks to indicate Aera's actions. Not only to break up the paragraph, but also to make things clear. I was a bit confused once she started taking to someone else other than Aldridge, then flipped back. Sure, I can follow it as-is, but just a simple "Area snapped her fingers at a nearby vole" or something would greatly help in clarifying the scene.
A similar issue of clarity here:
Quote
He ducked under a bed and came up with a small bundle of folded hessian. As Aera swept to her next patient, the Apprentice Apothecary trotted over to Aldridge, tucked the bundle under his arm, and turned away.
First off, who is this vole? We're told in the beginning that the other two beasts moving around are Ulrich and a squirrel. Suddenly there's a vole? And then with the bit quoted above, it took me several reads to understand what exactly was going on. Thought he was tucking a bundle under his arms at first. And why is "Apprentice Apothecary" capitalized? And how does Aldridge know that's what the vole is, given we're in his POV? Some moments like that dot the piece, halting flow and weakening the scene.

Biggest gripe with the post? We don't get any further explanation or understanding of what Aldridge said in Adeen's post. Does he honestly believe the Crater can be saved and turned to something good? This isn't completely neglected, as I don't think his reminiscing about Madder Barrow when he's walking through the Crater is any accident. Reads far more like foreshadowing that he's unconsciously thinking of ways the Crater could be repurposed--how the Barrow could be reforged, in a way. But still, there's no direct acknowledgement of what was a huge turn for the character in Adeen's post. I'll want to see this followed up more clearly in future spots.

Overall, this is a grand improvement from your other posts. Aldridge finally has the beginnings of a "quest" and story forming. A reason to see him survive through this contest to the end. He's seen friends die now, had his living friends snap him from his stupor, and even made some new friends to help him through the darkness. This isn't quite Kentrith levels of recovery, but a dang fine showing all the same. Don't take too much comfort in that. The building blocks for a great story told through his character are here now, but you've only set them up. You'll need to begin putting them into action.
Keep up the excellent, character-enriching dialogue, though. Was my favorite part of your whole post.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 15, 2017, 02:28:35 PM
Don't have too much time for super detailed reviews. My comments will be written as I read the post, to help speed things.

All the Ghouls Come Out to Play

Good first sentence. Hooks me and I'm instantly intrigued about what's going on.

Not sure why Kentrith is such a shaking ragdoll in front of Nire. Especially when he had such bravado to Nire's face in his app, and prior instances (Hargorn, the two ferrets, his meeting with his brother, etc.) showcase him as more cold and emotionless rather than constantly on his tiptoes.

The bit about remembering Hargorn is very interesting, though... Did they used to be friends? Yikes, if so, much must have changed.

Love the line about the beasts in Northvale only being there for the sights - of both varieties. Nice turn of phrase.

First Bothan, now Narvi. I'm expecting him to shout "Hey! Listen!" constantly. =P The bit with the otter who escaped is both good and odd. I see why Kentrith is pursuing it - he needs to find allies - but his odd lack of confidence as noted before makes the whole thing a bit odd. Feels like less a beast with a purpose and more someone just struggling to make it by.

I'm mixed on this post. We get to learn a lot more about Kentrith, we see him brought low, and the bit with Nix is solid. On the other hand, I'm a bit disappointed that we don't really see Kentrith doing much in this post. Think of it like a game of chess. We only really see Kentrith responding to the enemy's move, never setting up his own strategies. The only contradiction to this is him seeking out the mole, and learning in the end that he indeed has a friend he can work with. I'll want to see more on this in the future. I like driven-but-tortured Kentrith. I don't like sappy, "pity me plz" Kentrith.
Luckily, this post sets up a lot to begin paying off. That's what I'd like to see from you in the next round, Kentrith--how is Kentrith "facing the day"? Not bearing it, not constantly rubbing at his ear and having #memories, not trembling at every difficulty he faces--how will he face and confront the day?
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 15, 2017, 02:59:23 PM
Let's Get Down To Business

but who will defeat the huns?

Hmm... I feel like the problems that have haunted Komi and Aldridge's interactions now loom over this entire post. Everything is something we've seen before, and nothing new is conveyed at all. She still resents Aldridge, she still hates woodlanders, she still is hounded by the "Coward" name, etc. And what happens in the post gives us no indication of growth for Komi. She refuses to work together at all with Minerva, the whole training sequence is just the same issue played multiple times over, and when she finally does take up the shield, it's not by her own will. For all her snarling and growling and resistance, I'm honestly siding with the other beasts--she is a bit of a coward. Immature, if nothing else. And that alone is fine--characters with flaws are great! The problem with Komi comes from the fact that the same record plays over and over, and we rarely get to see her rise above it, or confront it.

That said, I did enjoy the training sequence itself. One of those scenes you can picture being in a movie; the montage shots of them completely bungling it all up. It does set up nicely the realization that yeah, these two are in trouble, and they really will need to work together to survive. I just can't bring myself to care right now, because all I see from Komi is more of the same.

Overall? It's not strictly a bad post, just doesn't reach far at all. Komi drops more hints of #pastthings that happened, but I'm getting tired of the hints. I need to start seeing some answers.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Komi Banton on August 15, 2017, 04:21:46 PM
Quote from: Tooley Bostay
Hmm... I feel like the problems that have haunted Komi and Aldridge's interactions now loom over this entire post.

...
...
Blast...

I tried.

Gotta try harder, apparently.

*sweeps up shattered pride off the floor*

Quote from: Tooley Bostay
That said, I did enjoy the training sequence itself. One of those scenes you can picture being in a movie; the montage shots of them completely bungling it all up.

And yay! I was hoping that's how that would come out. I can feel like I did something right. :-P

I do have my collaboration with Minerva later this round, so answers will come, because a lot of this post was needed to build up what we wanted for that.

Oh, and thank you so much for taking time to read and comment on our posts! It means a lot to us all to know someone is reading and thinking about what we worked so hard on.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 15, 2017, 06:38:19 PM
Sorry, Komi! =( I do see that you have a second post up, so maybe my opinion will change by the end. And thank you for the compliment. I appreciate it, and am glad to hear the cast enjoy my silly ramblings.

Fool's Gold

Hmm... *steeple fingers* ...I'm not sure how much I can even trust you, Thrayjen. I've a litany of potential criticisms or praises with your post, but I'm not entirely sure where to place them. Let's take this part, for example:
Quote
“She passed earlier that night. She… well, she was very old.”
I can't believe this. It is such an utter waste of rich storytelling potential, and drips with so much convenience that I simply can't believe this is true. The mother-figure who took in Thrayjen and matters so much to him just so happens to die the night he was taken? Given Thrayjen's spotty record of truth-telling, I'm inclined to think this is a lie, in which case, I give you some props, since you don't bother with some aside where Thrayjen monologues to the audience about how he's lying. ...on the other hand, it's possible this is true, in which case... dang, what a letdown, man.

And where are the hogbabes? Are they actually dead? Kept with Nire's other children? Hedgehogs have been mentioned being around Marik, and maybe I'm forgetting a part that specified this, but it's a part that could use some clarity. Does Thrayjen honestly think they're dead? Does he not know? If he doesn't know, why isn't he trying to find out, given he cared so much for them? If he does know they're alive, then why's he just waddling around and not trying to free them?

We finally get our taste of Thrayjen's secret, and his backstory. And I daresay I like it. It's not what I expected, and adds a certain gravitas and weight upon his shoulders. He suddenly has some importance within the world, and isn't just some random runaway rat who smiles and nods at everything. Speaking of which, it also goes a ways (though not far enough, I think) in explaining why he's so unfazed by the horrors around him. He's probably seen much worse, so bearing the Crater isn't that big a deal for him.

Got to say, though, was not feeling the Aldridge addition at all. For the start, why Aldridge elects to have drinks with a random rat makes little sense. I can accept it, though, given he has a camaraderie with Blue. But then he starts dumping his whole personal life story on Thrayjen? Da heck? The moment seems incredibly out of character, and even if it wasn't, it doesn't feel like it's been earned. These two beasts don't know each other at all, so why is Aldridge - who has been shown to be at least somewhat suspicious and cautious - so entrusting with such personal history? A bit more time establishing at least the beginnings of a bond between the two would have helped.

In a few ways, Thrayjen almost reminds me of a reverse Hargorn. Especially with the aside about the mousemaid. He used to be a beast who indulged whatever passions and pleasures he had, and to see him now, you think to yourself "no way. This can't be the same person." That has a lot of potential--the struggle against the person one used to be. Does Thrayjen crack and cave in to the Crater's way, becoming the beast he used to be? Does he even struggle with that past self at all? Will his past come back to haunt him? Whatever happens, just be sure to follow through on this, as I very much want to see Thrayjen deal with his past self, one way or another.

Overall? I like the pieces being set down here, but there still isn't a whole lot of meat to sink my teeth into. I now know a little bit more about who Thrayjen is, which is great, but I still don't know what he wants. He's still the same "smile and tough it out" type as before, though showing him bend under the strain of Nire's questioning gives me hope that he won't remain static. Start building Thrayjen's story. Why this character? Why are we reading about him? You have a compelling answer there with his past self, but it'll need to be executed well. A good showing, though. Thumbs up, Thrayjen.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 15, 2017, 08:00:28 PM
Don't Fear the Reaper

Let's start with the good.

This was a good step for Silas. In particular, I liked him meeting Truggo and seeing how his actions doomed beasts around him. Of note is the line:
Quote
“But your family and friends – ” Silas started.

“My family and friends think I’m a murderer.”
This must be a gut punch to Silas. His whole revenge was for what happened to his family, and now there's a parallel to be found in Truggo. Only Silas is the beast at fault. Excellent bit of conflict, though I wish Truggo had been kept alive longer. I think there was more to be done with that character, though what happened in the arena itself works well too.

Speaking of which, this is our first taste of one of Nire's monsters in the arena, and boy is it purdy cool. I love the subverted expectations once Truggo refuses to kill Silas. Initially I thought they were just going to stick him full of arrows for sticking out his proverbial tongue, but nope, snek monstah. I had some trouble following the flow and actions of the fight, but I overall enjoyed it--especially the bit about the snake still snapping after being dead. Incredibly freaky for beasts who may not expect it, and it's the perfect way to make one of these creatures truly seem monstrous.

As for the negatives...

Holy NPCs, Batman! There are four new NPCs here, and only one cast member of note. It seems like such wasted potential to have Silas be around random NPCs that we don't know or care about when cast members could have easily been inserted in their place. The sparring mouse? Could be Thrayjen or Kentrith. The otter part with the egg? Could be Aldridge, or Adeen, or anyone. The ferret tailor? I dunno, could work with Kali maybe, given she can't really be a musician at the moment. Truggo has his place, and I liked his inclusion, but the random onslaught of new, unimportant NPCs strikes me the wrong way. Don't rely so heavily on NPCs of your creation, Silas. Make bonds with the cast, especially given how much potential there is. Thrayjen and his whole loss of family/turning over a new leaf could inspire Silas to put down his revenge, maybe? Adeen was already set up with that fantastic bit about saving his wife's letters, and I want to see them interact more. And they'd all be naturally compelling bonds, because as this post establishes, Silas knows he can't count on any of them as actual friends or allies. Know what that smells like? Sweet conflict~

Also, by the end of the post, we're pretty much back to square one as when Silas first was put in the Crater. While I really like Blasio sponsoring him - and didn't see that coming at all - I don't see exactly where he's going to go from here. Now, this doesn't worry me too much, since I had the same concern for this post, and the Truggo thing was a nice surprise. But I think you should set up Silas' overarching story soon, or at least build meaningful arcs between him and the other cast members. There's a lot to explore with Silas, but it's just not being tapped into right now.

So while this had some pleasant surprises, it ultimately is a bit too solitary and removed from the surrounding cast and story. I do like Silas, though, and am looking forward to see where he'll go.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 15, 2017, 09:07:21 PM
Let Steel Do The Talking

Oh my. Our first death post. Given I just read Aldridge's post, I think I know how this is going to end, but there may be some surprises yet. *dives in*

Yikes. He died as he lived, a stubborn but resilient beast. It's a testament to the author how much I intensely disliked Kentigern in this post. No, that is in no way a slam against the author. This works wonderfully, because we're placed in Aldridge's shoes. We grow more and more incensed by Kent's stubbornness, his refusal to see reason, his violence and pig-headedness, and when Aldridge finally does the hare in, we're tempted to clap and cheer because the beast is finally dead! ...and then you come down from the emotion of it all, and realize just how wrong the whole situation was. What consequences it will have for Aldridge, for Kentigern's family, and it stings. Wonderful use of Kentigern's harsh personality to draw the reader further in. Bravo.

Also, kudos for trying out something different. I like the dual-character death post idea, and would like to see more of this in the future. Now, yes, this round we knew Aldridge survived beforehand, but what if in a future round we didn't? Think about how tense that situation would be. Heck, even as I was reading this, I was half-convinced that Aldridge would just throw his sword away to try and prove himself to the hare, only to get skewered. Love it. Keeps the audience on their toes.

The next beasts who get the axe--take some notes from this. Go out with a bang. The first death is always the hardest to write, since it's difficult to have it be impactful (see: Vasily just getting eaten by a shark). This is not a problem in this post. We see Kentigern at his worst (arguably his best, too), and this has a notable impact on Aldridge. That stoat is not going to walk away from this unchanged (at last he better not. I don't want a repeat of the Noodlearm Monster, Aldridge, where he shivers a bit then shrugs it off and goes to breakfast). In life or death, this is how you do cast interaction--make them have impact and meaning.

A hearty round of applause for Kentigern for writing in the contest and going out strong. It's never fun to see these death posts, but such is the game we play.

(Also, check your PM box, Kentigern. Sent you something.)
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Aldridge Moor on August 16, 2017, 01:40:42 AM
Got to say, though, was not feeling the Aldridge addition at all. For the start, why Aldridge elects to have drinks with a random rat makes little sense. I can accept it, though, given he has a camaraderie with Blue. But then he starts dumping his whole personal life story on Thrayjen? Da heck? The moment seems incredibly out of character, and even if it wasn't, it doesn't feel like it's been earned. These two beasts don't know each other at all, so why is Aldridge - who has been shown to be at least somewhat suspicious and cautious - so entrusting with such personal history? A bit more time establishing at least the beginnings of a bond between the two would have helped.

I just want to chime in and say that this blame should be at least half mine - as with Aldridge's other cameos. Will it be explained? Even that would be a spoiler. ;D

(thank you, as always, for these reviews!)
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Kentigern MacRaff on August 16, 2017, 09:54:24 AM
Quote
Also, kudos for trying out something different. I like the dual-character death post idea, and would like to see more of this in the future. Now, yes, this round we knew Aldridge survived beforehand, but what if in a future round we didn't? Think about how tense that situation would be. Heck, even as I was reading this, I was half-convinced that Aldridge would just throw his sword away to try and prove himself to the hare, only to get skewered. Love it. Keeps the audience on their toes.

That's awesome because that's exactly what we were trying to go for! I was also actually supposed to post an earlier post to increase the suspense, but unfortunately life has a habit of hitting you when you least expect it and I didn't have the time. We actually started planning it when we first got the news we were going up in a head-to-head vote— and credit to Aldridge for the idea. We figured, if the audience wants a head-to-head, we'll give 'em a real head to head!
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 16, 2017, 06:17:22 PM
*claps* Well played, good sirs. A shame you weren't able to get that first post out, Kentigern. I'm sure I would have been on the edge of my seat during that death post. Nearly already was. Hopefully the life situation on your end has cleared up, though, as that is always far more important.

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Will it be explained? Even that would be a spoiler. ;D

(http://i66.tinypic.com/dr2yat.jpg)
I'm watchin' you, stoat. Watchin'.

But you're very welcome. I'm always excited to read your posts. While some have been hit and miss, I really like Aldridge and want to see him do well. so don't disappoint meeee

Coming Up Easy

WHOOOAAAA whiplash on aisle two! We go from Kentigern biting the bullet to suddenly Sly is back ages ago when he won the bet? Why was this post placed so far ahead? Should have come way earlier. Heck, probably even the first post of the round.

Blasio continues to be entertaining, though I can't quite say the same for Sly's voice. It lacks the same "sharpness" and cunning edge that was ever-present in the other posts. Take this line for example:
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...all of them focused on the next match which, from the bloodcurdling cries, could only be very entertainingly bloody.
Blood is used twice, but not with any notable rhythm or cadence, and "entertainingly bloodthirsty" is more of a mouthful than a savory bit of wit. This isn't a critical problem with the post, but I didn't find myself smiling at Sly's antics as I have in the past.

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...you’re not special, that all you are is amusing talk and nothing else. A little joke. A joke that has stopped being funny, and has gone on long enough.
Dang. What is with the meta commentary on the posts this week? Am I just reading too much into it? Still, Blasio points out directly the problems I've had with Sly since the beginning. What's more to him than gab and ale? The response given in this post is Sly's recognition of his past mistakes, how much he owes for them, but how that contrasts against the far greater evils of beasts like Blasio. Is this enough? ...ehhh... I'm not convinced. I'm not exactly sure what I should be rooting for. How has Sly earned - from a reader's perspective - the quest to overthrow Blasio? Where did this good will even come from to begin with, when two posts ago he was nothing more than just looking for his next drink/money to pay his debts? Not saying the movement to give Sly a journey and objective is a bad one at all - it's actually quite needed and appreciated! - but I don't know where exactly it comes from, or why I as a reader should care.

*reads ahead* oh. That's why Blasio is a doofus. Haha, I will give you some props for that, Sly! A nice way to answer that odd bit of randomness before.

And oh my, SlyXAdeen is now a thing. It's a thing, right? Because that looked like a thing. Things all in the air tonight. As far as real talk, though, while it was a genuine moment between the two (and I particularly like how Adeen's bluntness contrasts Sly's chattermouth), it did ultimately feel a bit like more of the same. Sly goes to ask someone for dirt on a Crater warrior. Like he's done before. I have no idea or expectation of where Sly is going next, beyond the promise of him somehow overthrowing Blasio based off of a sudden burst of righteous indignation.

Overall? This one just didn't really make an impression on me. I'm not very much invested in Sly's story, since he only seems to draw from a small pile of options in his posts. He's best when he talks to Blasio, but the problem with that is it's an NPC. And the same one each time. Other than that, Sly feels extremely secluded from the rest of the story and cast, and I don't know what to grab onto in order to root for him.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 16, 2017, 08:34:13 PM
Flight of the Bumbling Bard

*looks at scroll bar ... copies into Word* 5,500 words? Kaliiii~iiii. *rubs tired eyes and gets down to it*

Huh, fascinating. We get our first taste of some history with Kali, in that she wasn't always a lone, wandering bard and in fact belonged to a troupe.

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“Oi! My tender sensibilities of right and wrong sure are keeping me warm this winter!”
I had to stop reading the post at this point, because I became aware of the fact that I had this huge smile on my face, and it'd been there my entire time reading. I have to take the time to note just how much I enjoy your writing, Kali. There's a beating heart of something genuine in it all, unhampered by cliche or falsity. Truly wonderful.

I think more than any other cast member, you've truly embodied the category you applied for in the best of ways. Kali's growing and developing as a character, which she needs, but it's not at all at the expense of that initial hook: she's still a Silly Beast. And better yet, none of it is a shtick. I was worried that her whole "oh noez mah singing" would be played out too far, but you tackled it early and now it's turned into something more, as well as opened further doors to develop Kali.
One of my favorite bits of writing advice is "play all your cards early." Especially in rapid-fire contests like this, a lot of us writers think we have to hold on to the plans we have and wait for the "proper time" to show them off. This just ends up getting your character killed. Instead, I recommend playing those cards early, and when you have a clear hand then? Draw more cards, and you'll be surprised just how much more you have to work with your character. You did this wonderfully, Kali, and the other authors would be wise to follow your example.

*laughs* Gosh I love her and Baxter's interactions. I will note as a criticism that his reversal to being friendly is a bit jarring. In the previous post, it was a flicker of a moment where we saw he wasn't all bad, but now he's suddenly super friendly and jesting around with her? His misconception of her potential motherhood does some to relieve this, since it explains why he's softened up to her so fast, but even then, the dialogue before and after that moment is a bit too relaxed and cordial.
...but, uh, KaliXBaxter please? Heck, she's already a fox-bat.

There are still some SPAG errors dotting your post. They've vastly improved since your app, but it's worth noting here. Punctuation and tense, mostly. Moments like:
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The wealth however, matter not to Kali,
Where it should be "mattered." And on a similar note,
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“Thought he had Gregor, there at the end, but man, that comeback,”
"Man"? What is this strange creature you mention, hmm? =P

HECK YES. Said that out loud when Kali took a stand for herself. This is what I want to see in a character. Someone who I can cheer for. Someone who surprises me. And then we transition beautifully into an exposition of Nire's twisted viewpoint. And what makes it stick is that it makes sense. I can believe he actually thinks he's imparting meaning and value onto those beasts. And then this part?
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“It seems you stand corrected, Kali. You were a free beast.”
Literally let out a stunned chuckle and clapped my hands loudly together. What a line.

I take it back about the length. Every word was necessary and wonderful. This is a masterful post. Kali doesn't stop at just one thing. "Ooh, here's some backstory. Now watch my character do nothing else with their post." Look at how everything weaves together. The bit about the red sky not only gives us a morsel of her history, but dang, how it ties into the end of the post is just wonderful. Or how about her finding Kentigern's sword, and how that relates to her search for Aldridge? I love it. I love every second of it, and I don't give a rip about any of the SPAG errors.

That ranking system I did last round? You actually are #1 on my list this time, Kali. Incredible post. Be proud.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 16, 2017, 09:31:35 PM
The Chains That Bind Us

Mmkay, dual post. Interesting tactic, Minerva and Komi. I wasn't thrilled with either of your first posts, so we'll see how I feel about this one. Going to be briefer with my comments, since this is a second post.

Just want to first off note that I really like the opening lines. It's a world-focused detail that imparts just the right emotion. I think it could have been improved by chopping off the "and when there was noise, it was deafening." Let the scene speak for itself. But other than that slight bit, very good start. Really draws the reader immediately into the heart and emotion of the Crater at that moment.

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“Ye’ve got a kid too, don’t ye, Komi?”

Who's the father, Komi? WHO IS IT? Aldridge, you deadbeat, what have you done, hmmmmm?

And nice moment of bonding between the two. Unsure if I quite believe how fast Minerva seems to be taking pity and care upon the vermin, but I'll buy it for now. I'm not quite sure I get the relation of song and comfort with Komi. Has it always just been reminding her of her son, when in past posts it seemed to be just song/melody in general? I see what the author is doing, but there's a slight disconnect as I read it. I connect more with her worry/love of her son than the odd bit about singing somehow banishing nightmares.

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“Remember: Trust. Communicate. Cooperate,” Hapley advised both of them.
Eh? We just skip the entire fact of their training actually going well that time? We don't get to see Kentrith's surprise at their acceptance? One could argue it'd waste words, but it seems like an important moment.

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“By movin’ like one,” Minerva answered with a look to the stoat.
Oh, I see what this is. The metaphoric "teamwork is the answer" episode of the TV show. =)

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Could they meet its attack?
Bleh. I hate questions asked by the narrator. No, I don't know if they can. Don't ask me. Show me if they can.

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“We both ran in the other direction.”

“Aye, we didn’t talk first.”
So kids, the more you know...

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“Your daughter is here, Minerva. She needs you. My son doesn’t.
*wince* No no no, don't say that! That is painting a massive target on your face, Komi. "Minerva has a reason to live. I don't."

Ooh. Fatality on that scorpion. Dang, that was a nice finish to the battle. Glad you all chose a less obvious solution to killing the scorpion, and that it ties back into their prior failing against Kentrith and Nix. So Minerva and Komi are working together now, we know Komi has a kidmi, aaaand... that's about it. Is that bad? Well, no, it was a fun post to read with a cool battle, but especially after coming off the four-course meal that was Kali, this still feels like some lingering issues remain. With Minerva, she's opened up now to a vermin, which is a step, but she's still the mother who will do anything. With Komi, she's still the dramatic stoat who isn't really a coward (something we've known since her app) but has made herself vulnerable to a woodlander. Again, is the simplicity bad? No, but I want to see more from these two. This post was like funnel cake. It tasted really good, but was it healthy? Heck no! I want to see more meat and veggies from these two next round. Especially Komi. Start playing your cards, and draw some new ones.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Kali on August 16, 2017, 10:12:33 PM
Thank you again Tooly for the reviews!

I just want to say, it's all a team effort. We each write our own crazy story sure, but we all help each other with SPAG, catching plot holes, helping interact with other characters, the list goes on.

I hope everyone is having as much fun reading the story as we do making it. :D
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 17, 2017, 09:56:38 AM
And humble too. Lookit this 'un on a roll. =P But no, you bring up an excellent point. I've mostly focused my comments upon the authors, but it can't be ignored what a difference the camaraderie of the cast can make. I can't tell from my vantage point here what's going on behind the scenes, but I truly hope everyone has found the group to be supportive, ready, and eager to come alongside their fellow authors and help as they can. The story, and you all as writers, are always the better for it.

...though, speaking of SPAGing other authors. It's Tooley. ;]

ROUND TWO RECAP

Ladies an' gennelbeasts! We've reached the end of the bolder, the braver, the two-er Round Two. Insert your preferred stinger sound effect here. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsBByTiKfyY) We had our first death, our characters have continued to grow, Nire continues to be a jerk, the world spins on.

This round, my "awards" will be slightly different, just to keep things fresh for everyone. With that, we'll start with:

BEST CAST INTERACTION

There were actually quite a few of these this round. Aldridge requesting Kali's song was a genuine and touching moment that said a lot about his character, Kentrith softening upon the realization just how changed Adeen is spoke a lot about both characters, and Minerva and Komi's Saturday Morning Cartoon romp through friendshipville was fun to watch as they slaughtered a scorpion. This one is easy, though. It goes to Kentigern and Aldridge for the fantastic death post. I hated Kentigern as I read that post, and it made me cheer all the more for Aldridge, but that gut punch at the end when you realize just what has occurred connected true. This is an atypical "interaction," but it fits all the billings of a solid one. The characters are propelled forward (Kent dies, Aldridge has succumbed to his anger), and it hooks us to ask what will happen in the future (how will Aldridge handle this from here?). Very well executed by Mr. MacRaff and Moor.

MOST SURPRISING MOMENT

The heat got turned up this round. Aldridge and Kentigern's post had me on the edge of my seat even though I was relatively certain Ald would survive, Thrayjen's backstory was something I wasn't expecting at all what with his app's focus on vermin pirate stories, and Kentrith's drunken stupor - while a bit out of the blue - was a side to him I wasn't aware of. This one goes to Kali, and easily. Given how much of her post showed her struggle between her conscience and her job, I was expecting that struggle to last at least another week. But, befitting her boisterous character, she up and blurts out her mind right in front of everyone, and I really didn't see it coming. Am very, very interested to see where this takes her in the future.

BIGGEST "WUT" MOMENT

Oof. Numerous. Aldridge buddy-buddying up to Thrayjen out of nowhere. Sly's post starting way far back in the timeline. Kentrith suddenly being a drunk. This one goes to Minerva, for not addressing Adeen's interaction with Fable at all. It's such a stark missed opportunity, especially since both characters planned for it in the prior round. While not a fully condemning bit against Minerva, it's a huge moment where the ball was dropped.

THE SAFE PILE
Ah yes, no doubt the most favorite and most dreaded section - depending upon the beast - which is why I've elected to keep it around for good. These beasts, as before, are safe from at least my own vote, and represent who impressed me the most, but moreover, whose stories I want to see continue into the following rounds. As before, no particular order, but I'm doing something new and adding a single sentence for why I put them on. Very, very brief, but consider it a snapshot of why I liked your character this round.

1. Aldridge - engaging relationships with yet further untapped potential to be uncorked.
2. Adeen - the deepest and most thought-out prose and characterization among the cast.
3. Kentrith - promises potential to be the main game changer within the arena.
4. Thrayjen - backstory promises future conflict for the entire cast while engaging Thrayjen into more interesting fields.
5. Kali - everything.


So that leaves us at the end of this round, and we all as readers and writers now must face the vote! As said before, PROVIDE REASONS FOR YOUR VOTES. Even if you strongly dislike a character, please take the time to let them know why so that they can understand what to change in the future. Nothing is worse than getting a bunch of reasonless votes and being at a loss as to what to do.

Congratulations to all who have made it this far, a round of applause for your work and effort, and best of luck in the vote.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 26, 2017, 02:26:38 PM
(http://i.imgur.com/kkI39Pf.jpg)

The Tooley Monster has returned! Fear, all ye mortals.

Aftermath

Komi post! Been hoping for a turnaround, let's see how this one does.

Suddenly, enter stage left a sudden NPC. Is this bad? ...no... I don't suppose so, but at least in this post, it comes the heck out of nowhere. It does grant Komi another shelf to put some story knick-knacks on, but as of now? Not feeling it. Partly because there was zero buildup or foreshadowing (that I can remember). I hesitate to fully ding it, though, because there's just no way it's as simple as it appears to be. There's got to be another angle at work with Ms. Vixen, and it's clear there is at least something, given her reaction to Minerva. Would have appreciated some more meat on the bones, rather than just another secret to be uncovered the next round, or the round after that--so on and so forth.

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“With our help and a lot of time, he healed. But even something healed carries scars. Something mended is not always as strong as it once was."
Mrr... not a huge fan of the sentiment in this. I'm a very staunch believer that people can heal and rise above even the darkest of pains that hurt and haunt them. Scars last, but we aren't defined by our failures. And I wonder if this fits Aera's perspective, too, given how she invested so very much of herself in this vermin. If she believes something mended may not be as strong as it once was, why did she ever have any hope of meaningful redemption for Aldridge? This is a sensitive subject to encroach upon, but having dealt with crippling times of brokenness and lostness in my own life, I feel it's an important statement to say.

Oh. It's a spider. Not tentacle squidbroquo 9000. ...must have missed that somewhere along the way, but it makes sense. But on to important things, I like some of the more tender bits and pieces that we see dappled over this post. Aldridge's fear of spiders back in the past and Komi's interaction with it, being a key example. It's a nice little character moment that works and shows their history together.
Furthermore, I do like the use of the song in drawing Aldridge from his terror. She's comforted him in the past with her music - as we've been told - and it ties very much into what she's been doing for herself in pushing away the night terrors with song. I'm still not sure exactly why she's a singer beyond "she likes to sing, I guess," but for this moment, it was fairly good. Also, particular kudos for - what I presume, at least - to be the tie between the song's "home" and her finally reaching out to Aldridge. Home is where the heart is, and all that. Works well.

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“Alder…” She pulled back from him and looked up, saw tears in his own eyes. She hesitated, not wanting to hurt him further.
Congratulations, Aldridge. You are the father. *confetti*

Oh ho, and the end bit! Now that's the sort of interesting character hook that I'm talking about! This is what I've been wanting to see out of this contest--characters forced to fight who are friends/lovers/etc. That got my interest perked! ...until:
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All in good time, Jossia. The bowyer isn’t at all up to a fight at the moment, and the Coward did receive a small injury yesterday.
oh
So it's not something to look forward to next, it's something to look forward to... soon? At some point? The punch of that great moment is lessened when I have no idea when it'll happen. The tension of the moment is ripped away until it will be reintroduced at its earliest convenience.

Overall, a mixed post, with some really good moments, and some "to be continued moments" that mostly leave me confused. Not sure what the point with Eve is yet, which - sure - things take time to set up and develop, but I at least need something to grab onto rather than vague promises of stuff to come in the future. It's why I loved the end moment where Komi and Aldridge's fight is set up, but didn't quite as much enjoy how there was no timestamp applied.

You've stepped in the right direction, Komi, so keep that up, but right now the only thing I have to look forward to is the hook and intrigue of her fighting Aldridge. Everything else I either don't understand yet or am not compelled to look forward to.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 26, 2017, 04:51:27 PM
Arena A Cappella

Interesting play with focusing on Inkpaw at first. Part of it works, part of it doesn't.
What works: the distance it provides the reader from Kali is well done. She's just been thrown in with the slaves, and the reader naturally wants to see what's going on with her, but by showing Inkpaw first, it staggers the moment before we revisit her, thereby giving the audience a chance to breathe. Really like that, and I also like seeing more of Inkpaw.
What doesn't work: ...wut? This really lost me on my first read. It seems to make more sense on my second read, so I won't ding it so much, but it's a lot to chew on suddenly. Inkpaw's back. There's a rat. They talk about orders. Or do they? The rat doesn't even know. Okay, then he goes. A couple layers of a subterfuge could have been removed to make things a bit softer on the audience.

Similarly, who's the wildcat she recognizes? I'm going to assume that this character has been mentioned before, but I can't for the life of me recall where or when he showed up. If it's just something I'm forgetting, I'll let it pass. If this is the first time they've ever been mentioned, then ehhhh... not so much.

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And then she would be accepted into a gang, and get a tattoo, and share a cell with a beast named Bubba who would always fight for the top bunk.
Laughed hard at this. I mentioned it before, so I won't go into another lengthy discussion about it, but Kali remains a very fun character to read. All the positives and charming qualities I've pointed out in the past are still here and still as strong. Nice work.

I'll also note that the SPAG issues in this post are pretty noticeable. Moreso than the others. I know Kali's had trouble with SPAG before, but do try to take the time to give your final draft a hard look for tense shifts and other such errors. Things like:
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The glaring flaws of this logic are lost to Kali’s desperate mind - (should be "were lost")

“Kentigern asked you to sing for me. You sang me shanty! - (...sang me A shanty)

She knew why she came here She came... - (missing punctuation)

Enjoyed all the cast interactions that came into play. Her accidentally slighting Minerva was a genuinely fun (though both Minerva and Komi shrug it off fairly quickly. A bad thing? No, just means that there's no promise of future conflict). Thrayjen was a necessary friendly face for her among the slaves, and I had forgotten her altercation with Silas in particular, which made their interaction wonderful. I do wonder why Silas never corrects beasts who talk about him almost assassinating Nire, though. Why not just say "nope, I was goin' for Blasio"?

A fun post overall, but after last week's fantastic showing of character balanced with conflict, I'm left wanting more from Kali in this post. She finds herself among the slaves, sure, but she has no direction or quest to pursue. There's a hint of something at the end when Silas challenges her, but it's only reflective of past issues. It asks why she came here in the first place, not what she'll do now that she's a slave among them. That's what I'll need to see from Kali in the near future: what's her story, now that she's no longer a bard? What is the compelling journey she'll set off on now that her life - and the lives of beasts directly around her - is in peril? How will she grow and change? Answer that, and you'll have yourself another Round 2 knockout.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 26, 2017, 05:35:31 PM
Only a Game

*claps* This is what I've wanted to see out of Thrayjen the entire contest. Him struggle, him care, him feel things, even if his exterior was distant and passive. I finally have grounds to understand his character and his actions, and it's not through forced backstory inserts, it's finally hearing his thoughts. Seeing him get irritated at Aldridge, and struggle with hating the stoat before realizing that he to has been guilty of the same. But beyond that, the author takes steps in not just "fixing" the odd, passive "problems" that Thrayjen has had, but utilizing them to enrich the character in their interactions with the story. As Blue says, he's proven himself to be obedient. He's good at this sort of thing, so it makes sense that he'd be the voice of reason to draw Aldridge back from the edge. Further compelling is that it hurts to see what Thrayjen is telling Aldridge: "there's no hope for anything better. Just play the game. Just survive. That's all you can do, and it's all you should do." Given how broken Aldridge is right now, we want to see him recover, but under advice like that, you know that it'll only lead to a bad end where Aldridge loses the parts of himself that matter most.
Hmm? What's that smell like? Oh yes. Conflict, baby. And I love it.

And hey, we finally get answers to the general weirdness about the hedgehogs! And far from just stopping at answering the questions, we also have Thrayjen realize that maybe, just maybe, those hedgehog children of his are actually alive. Why does this work? Because it ties directly into the above. Tharyjen's made it by being obedient. Keeping his head down. Playing the game. But suddenly, he's on the other side of the wall. When he finds out that, in fact, Helix and Verna are alive, it won't just be a game anymore. And contrasted with his conversation with Aldridge? That breeds, you guessed it, more conflict.

There's SPAG all over the place, though. I dunno if this post was rushed, but there were spelling mistakes (Halpey instead of Hapley), missing plural forms of words (Blue paw came to rest on his scarred cheek,), etc. Jarred my reading of what was otherwise a very engaging, compelling piece.

Excellent post, Thrayjen, and my favorite of yours so far. You've promised the audience quite a bit of compelling conflict in the near future. Continue to make good on those promises, and you'll do just fine.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 26, 2017, 07:06:10 PM
For She Doth Murder Sleep

Everytime I read that title, I think: Murder, Doth She Wrote. =P

So from the start, I want to highlight the beautiful wordcraft here at the beginning. What an excellent way of showcasing Aldridge's numb, brokenness without relying on cheap tricks or overly-artsy maneuvers. Like this part:
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Couldn’t respond. Waited for them to lose their patience, pile into the cell and drag him out by the wrists.
It works so well, with the choppy structure perfectly showing Aldridge's state.
And then when he remembers the song. That works on multiple levels. Him struggling to hold onto the hope Komi gave him, the lyric - however - tying only to his present dark state, his inability to go beyond that one line and grasp the rest. It's gorgeous.
And then the ribbon word-image! Most authors (myself included!), when they use a metaphorical image in their description, only take it the one step and then drop it (things like battlefields crashing like thunder, and then we move on to other stuff), but here Aldridge takes the description and moves forward with it, tying the "ribbons" to the other events that have surrounded him. And then to remove us from the metaphorical language? "Scraps fluttering around him" Perfect. Ribbons, scraps, fluttering--you can feel the unity in the description.
This is the same quality of stuff I saw in your app. Love it, Aldridge.

Though, as a small aside:
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A thought came to him and he fell on it as a wolf on the first doe of spring.
Does that even happen in the Redwall world? Are there does? Do wolves hunt them? Are they sentient? I'll excuse it for the artistic merit, but an odd bit given the anthropomorphic trappings of the story.

Also, since I criticized it before, huge props on properly showcasing Aldridge's haunted aftermath of the spider encounter. It's not a one-and-done bit piece. Yes, he does competently start doing other things fairly soon (sparring), but we see how the experience still haunts him. As he says himself, every time he closes his eyes, he's right back there. Moreover, I like how you incorporated Kentigern's death into the horror, and not just the spider. His nightmare of being held down by the spider's limbs and the hare's paws was particularly effective, and really shows what a toll the whole experience has been on Ald.

I enjoyed the interactions, and while I'm not entirely sold on why Aldridge bothered chatting it up with Thrayjen before, I will say that their camaraderie is genuine and enjoyable to read. I appreciate how you didn't just show them sparring and getting to know each other that way. You chose a variety of scenes, such as them going to fetch the water together. It gives us a breather from the setting's focus on fighting, and gives us a chance to view the characters from another angle.
Adeen as well. That "do you always speak in nothings" was such an excellent mic-drop moment where things turn around. The conversation with her was a tad too veiled for my tastes, as I feel I didn't fully grasp what was going on, but I'm going to give it a second read later to see what I think then. If nothing else, it ends the post powerfully, and I enjoy seeing those two beasts share an understanding and vulnerability with one another. He's polite and genuine towards Thrayjen, but Adeen understands him on a deeper level, and he her. To have such closeness and unity sets the two apart from the rest of the cast.

Not sold on the Silas interaction, though. While it is written fairly well, I can't help but feel it's more of a "Kentrith comes over and says 'Hey, Aldridge. Stop interacting with just Thrayjen and go do something with Silas, because he's a cast member.'" The justification for Aldridge to work with Silas is thin, and while it works, I didn't buy it as far as being a natural moment within the story.

5,000 words, Aldridge. A pretty long post. And every word was worthwhile. I have a smile on my face as I type this. You set up a great many conflicts for Aldridge to deal with, but it's your execution that shines the brightest. I'm overjoyed to see your particular skill with wordplay make a stunning return in this chapter (it's always been present, but not so excellently as here). Really, really enjoyed this post.

Just be sure that you keep it up. You've got a lot of balls to juggle. Don't drop them. From things you've established in the past (Aldridge's ability to zone in and notice every minute detail), to the things you've established now (his haunting by the spider and Kentigern both). Dig deep, go hard, be bold, and if you stick the landing, you'll have yourself a heck of a story to be mighty proud of.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 29, 2017, 09:46:23 PM
Two days left for voting, six entries left to review. Let's do dis.

Stand My Ground

My word, I'm noticing an odd trend where people write Hargorn but either take some time to specify it's him (Aldridge's last post), or don't even do it at all (Kentrith)? ...wait, is this even Hargorn at all? It's a stoat, but Hargorn's a weasel? If it's not Hargorn, why is Kentrith so aggressive and guarded, and why is he talking about getting an eyeful of yonder ladyfolk? Bah, confusing all around.
Moreover, the entire escapade off to the touching up of the carving is rather awkwardly executed. I understand the importance, given the latter scene, but look at the structure: "Kentrith is doing armor stuff. He goes to oversee carving. He oversees it, nothing happens. He goes back to armor." The reader is left going "...why did I read that?" And even once we know at the end, the whole complexity of him needing to cover for another beast to oversee is just an unnecessary step that wastes words. Could have just started the scene there, maybe made the moment itself more interesting to read about (conversation between Kentrith and the old rat?), and then move on.

Quote
With the sound of closing doors, connections formed in his mind, little things that he had noticed. Clapping his paw to his muzzle, he wondered…
Gahhhh, holding all da secrets over my head! Not sure what the connection is supposed to be. ... *gasp* Kentrith. Are you the father??? =P

I enjoyed the Inkpaw meeting, especially the progression of their conversation. Inkpaw strikes me as the type to look for beasts who he can use/rely on/trust in some way, so when he sees that Kentrith appears to be a decent sort, he says as much to begin forming that initial bond. But once he hears Kentrith's name, everything changes completely, and he realizes this isn't just a nice fox, this is the fox.

Quote
when a weasel maid passed, he ordered cider and a plate of food.
I laughed at this, given Kentrith's immediately preceding thoughts about being sure to avoid beer. Cider is alcoholic. Yes, later Kentrith mentions how he asked for "non-alcoholic" (which isn't quite true. We don't see him specify), but at that timeframe, I imagine all cider would just flat-out be alcoholic. Maybe I'm wrong, though. Anyone out there who knows if asking for non-alcoholic cider in a medieval period would make any sense?

Oh-ho, but we are finally beginning to see the beginnings of plot blossom forth. Fitting that Kentrith's post dovetails us right into this larger scheme--it's been building mostly in the background of his posts, and it works well that he's the first to really know what's going on. Moreover, I liked the clandestine meeting with Narvi. What I liked more was the intriguing hook. I would have been disappointed if it just ended with "no, don't kill Nire, because someone else will replace him," but the added dimension of them not telling him their actual plan was a very wise decision. Now, just as Kentrith does, I want to know. Color me interested.

I enjoyed the Aldridge moment. Kentrith has a unique perspective in being able to understand parts of where Aldridge has come from. He too has suffered much, and had to pick up the pieces and carry on. Little lines like "Aldridge shrugged, trying to be nonchalant, but Kentrith recognized pain that had been weathered by time." are excellent as far as this goes. Yes, it's a bit of a hard, "Kentrith feels/thinks this" insert, but it works well enough because it makes perfect sense. Of course Kentrith would know what that motion is really saying, because no doubt, he's done the same in the past. Also, particular props for just everything about this string of dialogue:
Quote
Sighing, he went back to his sorting. He spoke without looking. “It’s a hard transition to make. To go from making things to destroying them.”

“What did you make?”

The question caught Kentrith off guard. He turned, and stared at the stoat before finally replying, “I made beasts well.”
Kentrith's comfortable reassurance countered by Aldridge's excellent reversal. This feels real. It has that spice of a genuine, real conversation that just sucks you into the lives of these characters and makes them come alive. Their histories aren't hard inserts, their personalities tropes--this is them just being people, with all those facets guiding what they say and do.

Quote
We shared something for a while, but it didn’t last. I thought I’d come to terms with…us…being over.
I like this line. Aldridge cares for Komi, but unlike her, I don't think he's so... wrapped up in her. As he says, it didn't last, and while she still matters to/haunts him, it's not as simple as "oh joy, we can hook back up!" I point this out, because honestly, I've not been feelin' the Komi/Aldridge luv. Put me in the BlueXAldridge camp. Or Kali. Not Adeen, though. She's his drinking buddy. =)

Enjoyed the end, as well. Stakes are raised, Kentrith's doing something, but moreover, we see what his personal quest is now: he's going to heal beasts again. There's the literal meaning of this, in that he no doubt wants to become a medic again, but there's also the relation of it to his work in the Crater. He's not longer just running to and fro, hoping to "one day" put his plan into action. He's doing it now. He's gripping that emblem and stirring the embers in his heart, and he's going to heal the poor beasts in the Crater of Nire's disease.

An overall good post hobbled by some awkward moments that make ill use of the reader's time. Nothing extreme, though, and Kentrith is striding strong this week. Keep it up, Kentrith. As he says, he's started a landslide. Keep going. Now's the time to start some more.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 29, 2017, 10:50:58 PM
The Taste of Ink

Let me start with saying I could write an entire review on how excellent that first scene is. Things like how we learn without our time being wasted how Aldridge has adapted to his new situation, or how the bond between he and Adeen have strengthened over their teatime chats. But the real glory? The real glory comes in showcasing these two characters' hearts and minds both clashing.
Adeen very obviously appreciates and admires Aldridge, but she sees for herself that her desire of him helping to overthrow Nire will not work. What her mind knows her heart denies, and so, she "searches once more." And I daresay by the end, she wishes she probed no further. (EEEE CONFLICT!)
Likewise, Aldridge finds himself at direct conflict with Adeen's worldview. The "blood" conversation is glorious in this aspect. Check it out closely:
Quote
"Blood built the walls you carve, and no decoration will change this. The masons must pay and the arena must fall. Only then can we start again."

"Blood builds everything. The best we can do is make the Crater better than itself - so much so, that we can honor our dead instead of resenting their loss. To make it worth the blood that was paid."
You can just see these two characters' worldviews clashing as hard as any battle here, and each makes perfect sense. Adeen spent her life before the Crater seeking to wash clean the world of the blood of ignoble beasts. Compromise and redemption had no part in her heart. Aldridge, on the other hand, has seen first hand how the world seems to work. His time in vermin hordes has taught him clearly: blood stains everything, in one way or another. And for him, redemption has been core and key to his very identity. Of course he views the opposite angle to Adeen. It's one of those cases where the characters connect on a great many things, but there are some key aspects that shatter the bridges between them. (EEEE CONFLICT!)

Also, that little line of her recognizing the skill of woodcraft vs stone carving... brilliant. I hadn't even made the connection, but what a brilliant bit. Adeen has carved things before, as we've seen, but they are the things that haunt her. Her ghosts that grip at her shoulders. It moves her forward, but not towards hope--desperation, if anything. On the other hand, Aldridge's carvings are of things tender and meaningful to his heart. The things of good that he holds on to. He is driven forward likewise, albeit with a sense of restoration. At first glance, one may assume the lines are clearly drawn - Adeen is in the wrong, Aldridge is virtuous and just - but it's not that simple. Adeen's hauntings are guiding her to take the world as it is, rather than as she wishes it to be. Aldridge's hopes blind him to the evils around him, and he may be a beasts paving the road to Hell on good intentions. It's a masterful contrast without drawing any attention to it. Simply wonderful.

And those last two paragraphs are all sorts of amazing. Aldridge holds out his hand of friendship as a request for aide - turning Adeen's own game against herself. And, finding herself pinned under multiple frightening realizations, Adeen runs. And the "four pages" callback? Wonderful. It says so very, very much of how impactful that conversation was without wasting a single word on "Adeen feared X and felt Y and emotionated Z."

So this scene is amazing. ...but good golly does it scare me.
Quote
He'd rather sit on the throne.
OH PLEASE NO. Don't tell me we're going with a "Aldridge ends up becoming the villain" story! It makes perfect sense and has such wonderful conflict potential, but I so like his character and so wish for a happy ending for him (and Adeen both!). Yes yes, it's a sentiment based only on sentiment, but puh-lease don't just turn into a miserable muck of misery and villainy, Aldridge! *falls to his knees, hands clasped and begging*
(But for real, keep it up, the two of you. I'm enthralled and on the edge of my seat. That I'm freaking out like this is a good thing.)

So that was a lot about that one scene. I'm going to make my further comments more brief so as to not make this super long.

Interesting choice in making Rinam the central POV character of this chapter. Interesting, and incredibly risky. "I don't give a rip about some NPC, this is Adeen's story!" is what some may be tempted to say. What's here works, though, and works in spades. Bullet points as to why:
- A more minor note, but the introduction staggers the reader in surprise, but we're not left wondering "who the heck is this 'Rinam'?" for long. But ahhh, we do know this NPC! Our confusion is left only as long as it's needed to wake up the reader from their stupor and have them realize this is the same white mouse from before. A good first step.
- Far more importantly, and what makes it work, this is not about Rinam at all. The ghost of Adeen lingers over almost every paragraph of Rinam's posts. Everything here is about Adeen, not Rinam, and it works excellently.
- Most subtly, Rinam rips us from Adeen's head. In that conversation, we do not know what Adeen is thinking or actually planning, and I don't think this is an accident. We only hear what Rinam hears. We're only convinced as Rinam is convinced. So, by having this be in Rinam's POV, it further builds intrigue around Adeen.

"My word, do you have anything wrong with this chapter?" Oh yes, a couple things. Biggest thing is that a ton of stuff comes in straight outta nowhere. There's a Slave Gallery? Since when? Every other time we've seen the slaves visit the Mess Hall? And boy, there's a ton of stuff in that final scene. Adeen knows the list is a lie somehow and knows who's behind it? She's already learned Bastion's history? She's given up her whole "I get high off revenge mwahaha" shtick? Just... where did all this stuff come from??? I realize this stuff may have been brought up and mentioned in prior posts, but if it had, I couldn't remember where or when. Though, the comment about her giving up her revenge flaw may not apply, given my above comment how we're not in Adeen's head then. We can't necessarily trust her.

Also, as before, some stumbles in the otherwise lovely descriptive prose (and it really is some of your best so far, Adeen!). Like this one:
Quote
"Rinam's mix remained true, and the once-sealed wineskin erupted in a bouquet of stolen bread, fermented fruit, and time."
...stolen bread? A wineskin erupted into... what? I don't follow. I know what you're going for, I guess, but the veiled language here does more harm than good.

Phew, long review. Obviously, I liked this one. And I didn't even mention about how much I enjoyed that last scene, and appreciate you switching things up and placing Adeen in an immediate conflict that furthers her story. Honestly, with this post, I think you may have just stolen the "Main Character" title from Kentrith. Adeen's the one to watch.

Fantastic post. Be proud.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 30, 2017, 08:10:24 PM
Final night! Let's do dis. Probably going to do shorter reviews just so I can get them all done in time. Apologies in advance.

New Skin

Ah-ha, we finally have a name for our intrepid clandestine operation. Obviously, they're planning something far bigger than just sending messages to family members. What is that plan? I'unno, but things are moving forward and the plot is advancing. Another piece of the puzzle.

Quote
he looked up at the familiar face of Darby.
Is it bad that I said "...who?" aloud? I think this was the otter from his last post? *reads ahead* Ah, yup. It's not the fact that Silas is introducing new NPCs at this stage of the game--that can work out really well, and the expansion we saw of Adeen's "white mouse" into Rinam was a particular example of this. But Darby is... just an otter. He tells of nothing new about Silas, opens no new doors for the plot, he's just sort of... there. As another name to remember.

It's rough in its execution, but I like the little detail about Silas' adoptive father. Adds a new dynamic to the rat, while also explaining perhaps where some of his non-horde-y tendencies came from (and also why his last name sounds so woodlanderish). I wonder if his mother wasn't his birth mother as well. Part of me wonders why his wife was so decent and caring as well--part of the same community he grew up in, or is it just a traditional "no woodlander/vermin divide" as seen in most Survivors? Neither is a wrong answer, but there's potential for a cool story opportunity depending upon how you expand this.

The snakeskin armor is a nice touch. Fitting for Silas, and his character as well. The whole bit about the armor "constricting" against him works not only in reminding the audience of the snake, but of the far greater pressure that is squeezing tighter and tighter around Silas. Namely, the revenge that is pulling him ever onwards, ever away from the kindness of his son, the joy of his daughter, and the love of his wife. It's a small thing, but an appreciated one.

Sly is a little twit, though, ain't he? Despite his ire against Blasio, though, I'm not sure I understand the seething hatred that he has. Did I miss something, or is Sly seriously just that bothered by the beaver? Is he finally actually drunk and impaired from his faculties?

Nice post overall, though I wish more meaningful things happens. Silas hears about the FTN, he gets his armor, sees Blasio. Nothing really happens, we just see things sort of play out without providing a firm, future direction. The writing was solid and I like Silas, but I often find myself forgetting he's a member of the cast, because his storyline seems so ancillary to everything. In future rounds, look at how to make Silas more of a gamechanger and playmaker.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 30, 2017, 09:00:39 PM
Break a Leg

Second post from Kali, so it gets immediately a far more brief review to better focus on the others' only posts.

"Drake"? Who dat? ...and why is everyone in Kali's posts overweight? Kali is, Inkpaw is, Drake is... The first two make decent sense, given their characters, but why the note about Drake? So... he's overweight because... because? I guess it's not a bad thing, but I'm noticing a trend that sticks out.

Hahaha, the little flashback to her brother was nice. I was expecting a cheesy insert prompting me to feel X emotion at Y moment, but true to form, Kali brings a smile to my face and subverts it.

Didn't expect the turnaround with him surviving the pit. The pit trap alone was a clever "death," so I completely bought into it he was dead. Nicely played.

I'm glad you wrote this second post, Kali. Your first was... lacking. This makes up for the missing pieces. While she may not exactly have a personal quest yet, she does have a strong thematic arc. For all this time, she struggled with the idea of authenticity vs. giving the audience what they wants. It used to be about her singing. Now it's about something else. Now she's performing for a very different crowd, but she's still driven to be authentic. Even if now it means not giving the audience what it wants, but what it needs. Nicely played.

Don't drop the ball next round. Dig deeper. Have Kali get roped into some compelling conflicts, give her a strong direction or a compelling struggle, and keep that thematic arc strong.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 30, 2017, 09:32:55 PM
A Solution to a Small Problem

A short post to send out our resident smooth-talker. A fitting end, given his life. Wish it was a more impactful death, like Kentigern's was, but I suppose this round was already full of plenty of changes and conflict.

Really not a whole lot to say here. I liked the alcohol burning bit, and Blasio's research shows him as a capable beast who isn't to be trifled with. This is our first taste - firsthand, at least - of how violent Blasio can be. He's every gangster crimelord and I love it.

Condolences on your death, Sly.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on August 30, 2017, 10:20:01 PM
The Bonds That Break Us

I enjoyed the camaraderie between Komi and Minerva in that first scene, though only because it's clear something is being set up to break. And, as seen in the end, the first cracks have fissured out. Me likey.

I wonder why Minerva is suddenly so chummy with vermin, though. Komi makes sense, but what prompted her to be so very open to Silas, and him to her? I thought that those letters of his were contraband, so why is he whisking them out in public in front of beasts he doesn't trust?

Ah-ha, and an interesting arrangement for Minerva. I like the angle of having a mole within the group, and it makes perfect sense for Minerva. Far more important is how the artistry of the leash "tightening" around her does excellently to make Silas' prior conversation more than just mandatory interaction. Will be very interested to see where Minerva goes from here, and what she does.

Overall, a solid post. A bit wandering from time to time, but what's there works well and promises more to come. Nicely done, Minerva.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Komi Banton on August 31, 2017, 09:17:32 AM
Thank you so much for taking all this time to review. Much appreciated!
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on September 01, 2017, 10:53:02 PM
You're most welcome, Komi. Thank you for taking the time to say so--always good to hear my efforts are heard/appreciated.

I didn't get this in before the vote was done, but as a slightly tardy post, here is Tooley's:

ROUND THREE RECAP

Alas, gone are the far-off thoughts of Round Two, replaced instead by new knowledge, new joys, new excitement, and new fears, all to be found within this new, tertiary round! The sands dye deeper red as we lost our second cast member, and the executioner's axe looms above for another soul to claim.

What did the woozle think of this round and its many events? Well, let us dive in and see what the highlights were!

BEST INTRIGUE

Things are beginning to burgeon in the dark, and there was much in the way of intrigue this round. Adeen's secrets plans only being told to us through Rinam's perspective (just what is that vole up to?), Kentrith being a determined but near-unwilling recruit of the FTN (are they even trustworthy, and will our fox find himself in the company of beasts just as evil as Nire?), Minerva being recruited by Nire to betray the friends she's finally made (will she go through with it for Fable's sake, will the others discover her treachery?), Thrayjen discovering that the hogbabes may yet live (how far will he go to rescue them, and who will he go through to do so?), Komi vs. Aldridge (will one of them actually kill the other?), Aldridge being told to play along with the system (will he set aside his morals merely to survive, and perhaps fail to act when he is needed?). There truly was quite a lot of excellent intrigue in this round, so I don't want to make light of any of it, and I know there's even some more stuff I didn't even mention here. Great job on everyone's part.
This comes down to a taste thing, but I give this to Aldridge and Adeen, and the conflict that spurs between them. The gorgeous interplay of character motivations and clashing worldview was such a wonderful thing to behold, and I am on the edge of my seat wondering how this will go. I like and "trust" both of these characters, but I also see in both of them the capability of great (unintended) evil. I have no clue how it's going to work out, and I can't wait to discover in the upcoming rounds. Glorious work, you two.

MOST INTERESTING PLOT DEVELOPMENT

With intrigue naturally comes plot development, and we got quite a bit this round. Kentrith gave us a great look into this "FTN" group which really promises to be fascinating once their work within the plot comes to fruition, there was Eve's whole play-making with Komi and Minerva and setting them both up to be directly involved within the schemes of the FTN, and Kali's genuine moving of the crowd which provokes Nire to fear he may have unleashed the wrong beast inside his little courtyard of death. This one goes to Adeen, and her whole scheme to overthrow Nire by working against and within the assumptions of the elite class. It makes perfect sense, insofar as we've seen how much clout someone like Blasio has within the Crater, and Granz already expects Adeen and Rinam both to be his little pawns. By working with the flow of the current, Adeen just very well may stand a chance to affect great change within the Crater. Most importantly, it's via a means that engages the reader and promises some great character conflict. I didn't see this coming from Adeen, but upon seeing it laid out, it makes sense, advances the story, and compels me to see what happens next. Well done, Adeen.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT IN PLOT DIRECTION

Unfortunately, some were misfires. Jossia does not interest me in the slightest due to her stereotypical villainy that I don't yet have a reason to be compelled by, not crazy about the too-heavy veiling and stage-winks present in Inkpaw's interaction with the rat, and Silas' interactions within the plot still feel distant and non-committal to a larger story.
This one is less a direct issue I had with this round, but a more general statement of caution to all authors moving forward: I care about your characters, not your NPC's. Some handled this better than others in this round, and the use of NPC's are completely justified, but with so many being tied into the FTN plot and other such schemes, BE SURE that you do not lose track of the fact that you are writing your character. Ultimately, I shouldn't care about Eve, Inkpaw, Narvi, or Rinam more than I should about Komi, Kali, Kentrith, or Adeen. Keep your focus where it should be--their story, not these NPC's.

THE SAFE PILE

So we're in Round 3 now, which means we've already lost two of our dear companions. This also means that, starting now, a spot from my Safe Pile is permanently removed. *dun dun dunnn* That means that I'll only be listing four beasts who were safe from my vote. As before, in no particular order:

1: Thrayjen - character traits and history are finally making an impact on story and world, promising engaging conflict.
2: Aldridge - pancake-flippin' gorgeous prose, conflict with Adeen freaks me out in all the best ways, and consitently great interactions with cast.
3: Adeen - excellent weaving of story and character threads, and character finally now compels me beyond just the wonderful prose.
4: Kali - weak first post saved by second post that challenges character and pushes her in interesting ways.

Also, as an added bonus and congratulations for a job well done on the part of these authors, I also included small art piece. Take some pride in your work, because you four have this woozle's official Patch of Approval!

(https://i.imgur.com/RIMUU2b.jpg)

And a well-deserved kudos to all the authors in the contest. It takes a lot of grit and gusto to pound out a story week after week. You guys an' gals are all troopers, so a round of applause for all. Best of luck as we enter Round 4!
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Adeen Pinebarrow on September 02, 2017, 03:07:51 AM
I'm glad you enjoyed my work this round, and thank you for the added bonus of the artwork.

Sketch me is beautiful. Even if they're sketches or blurbs, your continued contributions and insight are of great use for us authors.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Kali on September 02, 2017, 07:54:02 AM
*snags that free art like free cookies*

Kali looks so fluffyYYy!
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Thrayjen on September 02, 2017, 09:54:30 AM
Thanks for all the time you put into your reviews, Tooley, and thank you for your advice and opinions!

That is just adorable!
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Aldridge Moor on September 03, 2017, 09:52:05 AM
I agree! Sketch Adeen is beautiful.

...what?
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on September 10, 2017, 10:48:04 AM
Change

Whoa. ...this is a death post, right? It reads like a death post. But... I have read the next chapter, so I know that's not entirely true? ...very confused by this one. If this is a death post, then I'm rather shocked, given how excellent Adeen's posts last week are. You at least were able to wrap up Adeen's revenge arc and have her go full-broken vole. A shame if you were voted out--didn't deserve it this early.

...however, there runs the possibility that this is not a death post, and is - in fact - a wildly unexpected shift. I'm going to write the rest of my review in that potential light, so let's hit the highlights.

Wondering why so many of the wonderful, juicy plot conflicts set up in prior chapters were just dropped in this post. Adeen's seeking to cleanse the Crater of impurity and topple the whole thing from the bottom up? I... guess that no longer matters and she just wanted to kill Canen? So what was all that stuff about before, with Aldridge and Rinam? Was she just lying to manipulate them? I... suppose so, it fits her character and we've known from the beginning that she desired revenge against Canen, but there was also that struggle. Her rattled revenge-stabbing vs. the hare's words of guidance set a struggle for her at the very beginning. To see her just so suddenly go full revenge leaves a lot to be desired.

I'm also wondering why Adeen actually needed Rinam at all? In fact, Rinam's presence is the only thing that stops her from killing Canen.

On the artistic level, though, this post is top-notch. The little bits that do so much for the tone without saying anything at all. Like this one tiny bit:
Quote
"Or what loyal service to me buys that coin cannot."

The Stubtail twins nodded in approval.
Man, I can just see their self-satisfied, smug grins. Toadies through and through, these two, and yet all you really say is "they nod." But you don't need to say anything else, because the context of the scene tells us so much more on its own.
Also, that wonderful callback with the "What are you up to?" from Kentrith and Nix both.

I will give you particular props for how you handled the Hargorn scene. It's very clear what exactly happened, it hurts to read, and to see Adeen afterwards in the arena is just... gah, it's soul-sucking. But you don't waste our time with any shock schlock. This reads with far more impact than a needlessly explicit scene ever could. Well written, well handled, Adeen.

Really enjoyed the fight. It's brutal, it's cinematic, it's got this weight to it that pushes far but not so much that it feels overblown. It's the little touches, like how Rinam tries to ally herself with Canen before he strikes out and is then killed. Or the scuttling of the scorpions that provide a backing of danger before the two clash. Loved it.

Couple things about the final scene: so Adeen herself is not dead, as seen in Aldridge's post. I'm left thinking this is either a dream/hallucination (which I doubt), or something more like her spirit/soul has been detached from her body. Why the latter? Because through Rinam, we've already opened a door to the supernatural, and Redwall as a series certainly has room for such things. Perhaps moreover, it grants Adeen the opportunity to still be active, albeit in a different manner. How so exactly? Unsure. I'll have to see where the author takes her.
I like the bit about the poppies. All the metaphorical language in play. First off, you have the foreshadowing with her wearing a crown of poppies beforehand (replacing her usual crown of... nettles, I think?). The symbolism of the flower isn't lost on me, and the still, red field she wakes up in that smells of smoke makes me certain there's more going on. And I dunno, that line by Fenton at the end actually reads a little... dubious? Perhaps not as simple as it seems at first glance.

Overall... I'm very confused. If Adeen wasn't voted off, are we suddenly going to follow Rinam as the POV character? What the heck is going on? Dunno, so if you didn't get voted off, you need to make the situation and story very clear in the next week, Adeen. I'm cool with following along, since you've proven yourself a capable author, but my patience has limits. Especially after all that super awesome Aldridge/Adeen conflict has been seemingly abandoned. Boo!
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on September 10, 2017, 03:54:19 PM
Scrivener's Palsy

Aldridge post, huzzah! I was very interested to read this after Adeen's. Let's see what we've got.

Enjoyed the return of Tegue. That it wasn't just some throwaway NPC from before, and again, it's tying into Aldridge's larger arc of seeing the redeemable within the Crater. Most importantly, though, this grants Aldridge some purchase to begin working within the Crater and putting his plans into action. He's finding out who he can trust, and who can help him. Right now, it's something as simple as covering for him so that he can care for a friend, but in the future? I fully expect there to be more to this newfound knowledge.

Aera's kind of disappointed me in her scenes throughout the contest. Sure, we didn't really get to see much of her in Madder Barrow, but Ald's app painted such a clear, vivid picture of this friendly, caring, motherly figure. All I've seen from the contest has been a hardened medic. Now, of course, this shift makes perfect sense, given their change of location and her having to be Ms. Serious Healer, but I kind of wonder why Aldridge hasn't noted the change, or wished that he could once more have a carefree, normal conversation with her? That leads me to a larger criticism of Aldridge: I like his NPCs, and they inform us a great deal about his character, but as of now, they're not really doing anything to promote or escalate conflict. Apprentice Aera had that bit about her snapping at the guards/enjoying Ulrich's tale of murdering the slavers, but has that aspect of her character been meaningful to the story or prompted conflict with Aldridge? Not really. The same issue goes for Medic Aera and Ulrich. Ulrich had a fantastic moment in the Round Two post, but since then, both he and Aera are just sort of... "there." In the coming rounds, I'd like to see them challenge Aldridge some more. Come into conflict with him, or meaningfully influence his personal character arc.

The Thrayjen fight was nice. A bit of a spat between the two, but even Madjen is too much of a noble heart to hold onto it for long. I enjoyed the moment, and feel it was necessary, but by the end of it, it seems a bit "done and over." As if it's "oh, well, Aldridge and Thrayjen fight. And it's resolved in that single scene." Yes, Aldridge has now officially cast off Thrayjen's advice of compliance, and the rat is willing to accept that, but I hope this isn't the end of engaging interaction/conflict between the two. If they both just sort of agree on everything going forward, that'll be rather boring.

...huh. That moment with the ghosts very much perks my interest. We've seen Aldridge sort of "snap" and begin to notice things in complex detail, but this is the first time it's ever been of the supernatural variety. I don't think this was just an artful addition to the scene, or that Aldridge is actually just imagining things. What this means? No idea, but perhaps it ties into the fact that Adeen isn't dead yet--if he'll be able to reach across the breach and communicate with her.

Overall, it's a solid post. I enjoyed it, the writing is still strong, but I don't feel it did very much for Aldridge. Yes, he did some things, but is his personal story advanced any? There's the moment with Tegue, but it's a teaspoon of water in a gallon of flour, and there are cookies to be made. In the future, I really will want to see some stronger character direction based in Aldridge's story, not Adeen's or the Barrow Beasts or anyone else. An easy place to start is figuring out what exactly Aldridge's plan is, what and who he'll need to complete it, and what conflicts he'll run against that surprise both him and us.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on September 12, 2017, 05:27:05 PM
Fantastic Beasts and How to Fight Them

Immediate reaction from the start: "Another random NPC for Silas? Baaaahhhhhhhhrrggghhh." Now, to be fair, Jace actually makes sense. Silas is set up as a monster fighter, so him working with a monster specialist actually makes a great deal of sense. A bit too little, too late, in my mind, but I will at least say that the inclusion of the NPC has a clear reason. And he's at least fun to watch. A bit overly-cheeky, maybe, but his moment with running off after Kali brought a smile to my face.

I really like some of the small worldbuilding touches we get here. Like how Silas' ears are chewed, which clues Jace into his heritage. (Do real rat broods do that? If so, props on the real-world tie in that feels grounded and believable.) Or the bit about the cuffs that guests now wear to prove they belong. It's a subtle thing, and maybe not intended to be this way, but I love how it shows Nire's grasp squeezing around even the beasts that "belong" and are "free" in the Crater. They too now have shackles.

This line, though?
Quote
“Oh... uhh, aye. Nire thought we’d both been chained long enough, though I'm still s’posed t’ watch Komi like a hawk.”
Ha. Yeah no. I see what this is. "Oh shoot, we really need to drop this device that ties our characters together. Umm... Nire just released them from it! Yup!" Not a ding against you, Silas, or even necessarily against Komi/Minerva. But pointing it out because of the wasted potential and dropped character conflict.

The bit with Bessie was nice. And some good foreshadowing, I dare say, for when she makes her inevitable appearance in the arena. Enjoyed how Silas was able to garner some information about the monsters and how Jace was used to facilitate the scene. Ultimately, though, I don't feel this post did a whole lot. Silas talks to Minerva about the FTN, meets Jace, sees a spider, aaaand...? That's about it. It's kind of par-for-the-course with Silas. A nice character, well-written, but lacking a compelling story setup for the individual scenes to guide him through. I see he has a second post, so I'll reserve my final opinion until then.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on September 12, 2017, 06:56:04 PM
Before I get to the review, let's start by addressing the elephant in the room: the delay between this post and the last. I've several things to say, but I'll say them simply. First, my reviews for all the following posts will be shorter. Eight whole posts went up the night of the round's end. This is inexcusable to set this much on the readership's lap and expect them to read it all and vote.

Minerva, this has been a consistent habit. Last week, you posted your post two hours before the deadline. The prior weeks' issues have already been catalogued. I don't know all that's gone on behind the scenes, but by this point, I know that I can expect you to be late with your posts every week. If you make it to the next round, fix this. I do not want to see another late post.

And for the other authors? Don't think that I presume only Minerva got her post out late. As a reader, I can't tell who might have also been holding things up, but I'll be watching in the following weeks. Life happens, I understand, but don't make this a habit. Get on this next round early and hard.

Now, onto the review:

The Pit

Highlights: Enjoyed seeing Marik again. His genuine hope and belief that the story will end well is touching and nice to see. And a good contrast to the turmoil Minerva is going through. Nicely done.
Her moment with asking Silas what he would do, and him unintentionally granting her the fortitude to carry out her dubious deed. Nice character moment.
That last line about Monsters residing in the dark is solid. A good nod to a larger-scale character arc.

Drawbacks: ...Eve trusts Minerva that much? For real? They don't even tell Kentrith what their plan is, but she's just going to up an dump the massive info that she's a leader of the FTN on this unproven otterwife? Maybe that ditzy act isn't so much of an act.
While I do like parts of it, backstory storytime with Silas and Minerva was a bit... mleh. "Here, let me tell you a bunch of things that happened." "Oh. Cool." And it is. Finally cool to know her story with her husband. But that's all it is. "Oh. That's cool."
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on September 12, 2017, 07:08:22 PM
Smile Like You Mean It

Really enjoyed this one. Hits a lot of things that needed ratcheting up, and the "reveal" to Nire about Thrayjen's true identity was a wise one. That entire scene was really well done, including Nire's sponsorship of him. He's not doing it because "Thrayjen is a cast member who is cool so of course I sponsor Cool Dude," he's doing it to further manipulate Thrayjen. And Thrayjen knows this, but goes along with it anyway. "Play the game" he says, but by the end of it, you wonder if he'll end up losing himself in the process.

What I really like is the contrast that exists between someone like Thrayjen and Aldridge. Thray learns his "children" might be in the Crater, but does that make him hate Nire all the more and take up instantly the chance to overthrow the fiend? Not at all. In fact, we see a charming, good aspect of Thrayjen's character turned into a flaw: his genial nature, and specifically how that ties into his past. We know Thrayjen wasn't a great dude back in the day, but by the time of Nan, he set all that aside, took up an easygoing life and just lived with a family. His ability to set aside his hatred and slights and just walk forward was such a positive thing then, but now we see it turned on its head here: Thrayjen is a terrified beast, who - in a way - thinks he's being brave in his fear. All the better, because I completely understand and empathize with his situation.

And that last voice? Him telling himself to play Nire's game as he "heard Aldridge’s voice call him to training"? Glorious contrast-work. I am going to be fascinated at how those two interact in the future, especially after they seemingly came to an "understanding." What happens when Thrayjen's acceptance of Aldridge's meddling changes, and he views Aldridge as a threat? Glorious conflict, and I'm in, hook-line-and-sinker.

Good post, Thray. Very much enjoyed it.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on September 12, 2017, 07:17:35 PM
Is There Another Way To Go?

The Russa Nodrey bit was cute. Kentrith being so loud about all this super sensitive info is still a bit odd. Whenever I read his posts, I don't feel that he truly takes this plan and situation of his seriously. I know it matters to him, but he's like a beast grabbing at a fish with buttered paws.

Similar problem to Minerva's post--why the heck are the FTN people being so open and blunt with beasts they shouldn't trust yet? Sure, they haven't spilled their plan yet, but why are they revealing themselves to Silas, Minerva, and Komi?

I liked the oath, though. Rolls off the tongue fairly well and has the right amount of gravitas to it. Solid stuff.

The Blasio "reveal," if it's to be trusted, was unexpected. Unsure where the cast is going with that, but I'm intrigued, for sure. Silas' reaction makes perfect sense, but this also explains why maybe these super secret shadowy beasts shouldn't just dump a bunch of insider info on random beasts yet?

Overall, a solid post, but it felt more like "Kentrith goes here and there and then some things happen/are explained." Sure, he's now thinking about leaving the FTN, but... what's he actually doing? Like, for example, I thought (and this still might happen) that he was actually going to recruit Marik. In a way, turn him against his own mother to force Nix to work with him. Now that would be Kentrith doing something, and throwing stones to ripple the waters! Moving ahead, that's what I need to be seeing from Kentrith: him stepping out and really doing things that shake the plot, world, and current situation. Not saying you should do this specifically, but I don't really care if all Kentrith does is think about leaving the FTN. What if he actually did? Ask yourself that heading into next round. "What if Kentrith did [insert something pretty big, game-changing, that punches the plot forward and shakes things up]?"
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Minerva on September 12, 2017, 07:18:59 PM
Quote
Before I get to the review, let's start by addressing the elephant in the room: the delay between this post and the last. I've several things to say, but I'll say them simply. First, my reviews for all the following posts will be shorter. Eight whole posts went up the night of the round's end. This is inexcusable to set this much on the readership's lap and expect them to read it all and vote.

Minerva, this has been a consistent habit. Last week, you posted your post two hours before the deadline. The prior weeks' issues have already been catalogued. I don't know all that's gone on behind the scenes, but by this point, I know that I can expect you to be late with your posts every week. If you make it to the next round, fix this. I do not want to see another late post.

And for the other authors? Don't think that I presume only Minerva got her post out late. As a reader, I can't tell who might have also been holding things up, but I'll be watching in the following weeks. Life happens, I understand, but don't make this a habit. Get on this next round early and hard.

I assumed I'd get a comment about this, so I'm going to explain myself. This last round for me has been incredibly difficult in regards to my personal life. To summarize it very quickly, a week before my next semester at school started, I was told that I was denied student housing and so my week has basically been defined by me and my family frantically searching for someplace for me to live so that I can keep going to school. We eventually found a place, but of course also meant moving in. Meanwhile, I've been dealing with tuition and financial aid issues so that I can afford school as well. It's just been an incredibly difficult week for me in real life, and as a result it took me a while to find time to write and finish my post. I apologize.

Quote
Last week, you posted your post two hours before the deadline. The prior weeks' issues have already been catalogued.

I disagree completely here though. Four authors, including myself, all posted on the day of the deadline. Whether it was 8 hours before or 2 hours shouldn't matter. I wasn't anymore late than they were, we all posted before the deadline. I'm also going to reiterate that Tug of War was not late in the slightest. As far as I'm concerned, I've only been late in Round 1 and Round 4. Luckily though, my schedule is now clear, so it will not happen again.

Thank you though for the review, and I'm glad you liked most of the content.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on September 12, 2017, 08:08:27 PM
I do not like to read posts at 1 in the morning, Minerva. Whether it is 8 or 2 hours beforehand does, in fact, matter. My condolences on life's difficulties that have hit you this week--I'm sorry to hear about them, and completely understand how unavoidable they have been.
However, the fact is simply that I do not trust you when you say that it won't happen again. Your actions every week in the contest speak far louder than your defenses here. You want to prove me wrong? Change your actions so that they match your words. I wish you the best in that pursuit, and look forward to a timely post next week.

Beasts of the South

Whoa-ho! Now this one was a surprise! A triple collab!

The description of the alchemical flames lighting the arena is just awesome, and sets the tone gloriously well.

The random hare was an obvious "I'M KILLABLE" NPC, and she's a huge idiot, but at least her death was interestingly-written and fit the scene. And also this line of dialogue confused me:
Quote
“And ready I shall be, lest a stoat strike me from behind.”

“Is that on the table? My my.” Hracken, a twist of amusement in his voice.
...is this Thrayjen being, like, suggestive or something? That's the tone I'm reading it in, but it makes zero sense given his character. Like, I dunno, smackin' her bottom or something? I mean, yeah, he had a thing for a white mouse, but if this is how it's meant to be taken, I don't see it fitting him at all.

No clue what the beast they're fighting is, but I trust it's a real one. I thought anteater at first, with the tongue, but the scales make no sense. A really cool beastie to fight that fits the tone of the moment, though. And I really loved that moment where they regroup after Mara's death. It's snappy, gets us right in the moment, and shows how focused these beasts are despite the uncertainty coursing through them. A genuine moment of teamwork.
Rinam is also really cool, by the way. She's like a sweet, desert-mouse paladin from some MMORPG. That's too cheap of a term, though, because her mannerisms are rooted rich, her character is compelling and enjoyable, and I very much want to see more of her and her interactions with Ald/Thray.

Also, that Aldridge managed to pull off a believable version of a weasel war dance in an anthropomorphic setting is stunning. Hats off, mate. It makes perfect sense, feels grounded and real, and isn't one of those stupid "look, they're animals. Watch them do kooky, weird animals things because they're animals." This is just the right blend of exotic without feeling absurd and losing the "humanness" of Aldridge.

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Thrayjen’s heart beat steadily as Nire lowered a claw to the ground. The crowd cheered.
oh... oh no... what's gonna--

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The paw of the bloodied, beaten stoat rested on his shoulder and the stoat himself stood in the rat’s striking path.

[Aldridge droppin' some truth bombs on Thrayjen, bein' a total bro.] ... Don’t give him what he wants.”
oh thank heavens. You tell him, Aldridge, you are such a good beast, able to put aside even your hatred of--

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Thrayjen pushed the stoat aside.
what

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With quick footed nimbleness, the rat climbed back onto the belly of the beast as if the dying creature were no more than ship’s rigging.
what

Quote
The blade plunged into soft flesh and fresh blood spurted from the pitiful creature,
WHAT

Quote
It did not end with death.
WHAT

Quote
He stared up through a mask of blood, eyes focused without interruption on the Master of the Crater, paws steady. His whiskers, heavy with strings of nerve and skin, twitched.
*IRRECONCILABLE WEASEL FLAILING*

Quote
Nire clapped, and as he did he bowed elegantly to Thrayjen. Mouse and stoat shared a grim look between them as Thrayjen, smiling, returned the bow.
...stunned. Utterly stunned. Completely blindsided me, and now I am freaking out twice as badly as that Aldridge and Adeen moment from last week. But my word this makes absolutely perfect sense. Aldridge cast off the mask of playing Nire's game, but Thrayjen has fitted it firmly upon his face. And, oh my word, Nire is turning him back into the beast he was, but the only reason he's doing so is to save the children that love the beast he became, and... GAH! I hate you so much right now Thrayjen, but love you for the fantastic, character-driven, foreshadowed moment. I have no idea where Thray goes from here, but I don't need to, because he's got a clear purpose and goal, has a vivid and rich personality, and has formed meaningful relationships that will change from here on out.

*claps* Well done, all three of you. Jolly good show.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on September 12, 2017, 10:34:54 PM
Slaughter by Serenade

I adore the moment with her in the mirror, saying an altered pep-talk that contrasts her very first post. Kali is still Kali, but we actually feel the weight pressing down upon her shoulders. She's not winking and trotting through the daisies amid a field of bloodshed. The Crater is impacting her, but the author is wise not to remove all of her quirks. Instead, they make use of familiar quirks in a new way. Wonderful.

Quote
Like Uncle Louis, self appointed King of all Birds.
Hmm... in times past, I've commented on asides like this positively. Her flashback to her brother, the bit about Bubba, etc. This, I'm not sure what to take from it. Is it a joke? A backstory nod? King of birds? When did birds ever come into the picture? This line leaves me more confused than anything.

Quote
"Now we can enjoy eating you as much as the monsters will! Rawr!"

"But nothing! You want to escape. I want to escape. This cookie wants to escape."
Pointing this out because they made me laugh aloud. Ah, you're still fun to read, Kali. Gonna ding a bit for the repetition with Komi when Kali is asking for singing lessons. Goes on about twice as long as it needed, and the whole scene - including the part with Minerva - feels a little bit... aimless. Yes, Kali is still fun, she's trying to keep spirits high, but what does the scene tell us about Kali that we didn't already know? Not... a whole lot. While enjoyable, it feels a touch like fluff. Cotton candy fluff. Really good! But... lacking meat.

Hrm... am I supposed to remember Droven? A vole from a workshop...? I'm sure he's appeared before, but I'm not making the connection. Could be on me, but maybe some more clarity of who he is would have helped. (*TooleyReadAheadEdit:* Oh. Lute maker. I remember now, Still didn't get to share in Kali's initial shock, though, so I'll leave the note here.) I really like how we see Nire "overstepping" his bounds. In a near-literal sense, becoming the judge of Northvale itself. This is unprecedented in the Crater, to my mind, and I think would begin to cause more than a few Northvale residents to quake in their homes. Nire's going too far here--very interested to see where it goes.

Oh dang. Wow, that was a really good bit with her trying to save all the beasts. It's a worthwhile conflict for her to face, fits Nire, and I really enjoyed reading it. Could definitely feel the tension of the whole thing, and the following scene? Wonderful contrast to the beginning (which on its own, was a wonderful contrast to the first post). And what a way to end it with the bit with Kentrith. Kali now has a goal, a purpose, and a quest to pursue. She's been brought low, and she ain't gonna take it anymore. And this does justify all of her talking about escape with Komi and Minerva, though I still think the prior scene could have been cut down a great deal.

Overall? Bravo. Solid post, Kali.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Minerva on September 13, 2017, 08:01:26 AM
Quote
I do not like to read posts at 1 in the morning, Minerva. Whether it is 8 or 2 hours beforehand does, in fact, matter.

No one expects you to. This is why there is an entire two days for voting. So that everyone has ample time to read the posts and make their decision. So, no. It doesn't matter. By definition, late means after the expected time, and Bonds that Break Us was posted BEFORE the expected deadline.

Quote
However, the fact is simply that I do not trust you when you say that it won't happen again. Your actions every week in the contest speak far louder than your defenses here. You want to prove me wrong? Change your actions so that they match your words. I wish you the best in that pursuit, and look forward to a timely post next week.

My actions every week?
I'm about to reiterate my arguments for Tug of War. I posted Tug of War on Day 3 of Round 2. I say Day 3, because Round 2 began in the middle of the afternoon the first day and so it was only half a day rather than a full one. While Adeen was already done, that was because Adeen took the time over the planning period to draft her post, but I did not have that luxury. When you reviewed that post, you said I "held things up" but that was completely false. The only person waiting on me in the slightest was Aldridge, who had finished his post the same day as I, and he posted up his the next morning when he woke up. Every other writer was not yet finished with their posts, so in no way was I holding anything up that round. Just because I did not post as quickly as Adeen did, does not mean I was late. On top of that, my work in the collab with Komi was completely on time.

For Round 3, I was last on the posting order, so in no way would it be possible for me to hold anyone up. So long as I finished my post and put it up before the deadline, I would be on time. The two day voting period would give everyone ample time to read it before they voted and, if they chose not to, then that is completely on them. Because it was there, up, ready, and completed on time.

Round 1 and 4 I WAS late. 4 because of life issues taking up my time to write, 1 because of overambition with my first post that led to me taking far too long on it- which in turn led to me having less time to write my second.

You've been arguing that I've been 'consistently late, but that's simply not true. I am not going to allow you to criticize me for something that is not true. What I will allow you to criticize me for is for what actually IS true, and that is that I've been inconsistent in being on time. It sounds like the same thing on paper but it's not. Consistently late implies that I have been a constant problem throughout every round of the contest- which I have NOT been. Inconsistent in being on time implies that I've been on time some of the time and had trouble maintaining the schedule in other times. This IS true. And I will accept this criticism.

Also, as a final aside:
Quote
However, the fact is simply that I do not trust you when you say that it won't happen again.

Please have faith in me as a writer. Saying something like this is not encouraging in the slightest and is actually disrespectful. Encourage me to be on time. Be positive. I don't want to 'prove you wrong.' You're not my enemy. What I want is for you is to like me as a writer. I want you to encourage me to do better. Saying you don't have faith in me, is basically telling me to give up.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on September 14, 2017, 10:02:54 PM
So I actually reviewed Komi's post privately. I may end up putting a public review up, if her author is fine with that, but TBD. With that in mind, let's jump straight to Aldridge's second post:

Loggerhead

Oh ho, second Aldridge post! Lessee what we got.

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“Oh!” Komi grinned. “The one about the mousemaid and the searat. Thankfully none of them knew the third verse.”
...is that a Thrayjen reference?

I appreciate seeing an edge and darker tone to Eve. It works to counter her pomp, for one, but moreover, it follows Kali's post/moment with the Northvale beasts wonderfully. Going to point out a really good moment, and a less good moment:
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“Death happens on this road, Moor. I thought you of all beasts would understand that.”

A general’s words.
"A general's words." Boom. Those three words instantly did more for Eve's character than the rest combined. It says so much in such a short period. I know what type of beast this is in a deeper way, know how she tics, and how she will move against the wind. Better yet? It comes through an observation that is in-character and fitting for Aldridge to know. Wonderful work. I'm now interested in Eve as a character.
Quote
"I do not approve of your actions, but I will at least try not to get in your way. And if you are willing to drop the grandstanding then I will work alongside you to bring this place down."
This is the second time where I feel Aldridge's reaction to a set of horrible news has been less than impressive (the first being when he was all right with Nire killing the bowyers). So we know that Aldridge's plan is to redeem the Crater, so why is he willing to work with here to "bring this place down"? I'd kind of expect his reaction to this bit of news to be to stagger back, stare at this general-in-a-clown's outfit, and reject her and the FTN out of paw. She's just another side to Nire's coin--why be willing to work with her at all?

The scene with Rinam was cool. I forgot about Adeen's book, but what a device it is to be used. All those observations? Of course Aldridge will be able to use that, as it'll no doubt provide him what he needs to truly take over the Crater. Better yet, Aldridge isn't seeking the book for that reason. Nah, our tender-hearted soul of a stoat is still just seeking to help his friend, who in her own way "betrayed" him.

Let's talk about the Thrayjen scenes. So, the previous collab post set up an amazing turn for Thrayjen's character, and I was pumped to see these two interact. Aldridge and Thrayjen have two very different approaches in dealing with not only the Crater, but their pasts. Aldridge has set it aside and doesn't seem to be haunted by it, as he's a truly changed beast. Thrayjen has changed as well, but his approach seems far more to be one of avoidance--he's too afraid to rock the boat in any way. With such internal disagreements, that post set up an incredible amount of potential for future conflict.
Looking at what happens in this post, though, it reads like "Aldridge talks to Thrayjen. Who surprisingly only seems mildly bashful about covering himself in someone's blood. Then they talk amicably about Adeen and history over tea. Then they have tea. Yay?"

I see no conflict, no struggle, no moments of intensity rising from either of them. I'm not saying they should be having a full-on shoutdown match, but perhaps some heavy awkwardness? Thrayjen truly feeling the weight of his actions sinking into him (does he react somberly, does he lash out when Ald tries to address?), Aldridge struggling to see if the beast he met in the Crater is fading away or not, so on and so forth. Now look, the scene here over the tea is nice. It's genuine, it's a good moment, but it doesn't read like it accomplishes anything internally in these characters, either in furthering their relationship or deepening their conflict.

Gonna continue on this just a bit longer. Let's look at this line here:
Quote
“He wanted The Blackwhiskers, so that’s who I gave him.”
Boom. There it is. Thrayjen is saying he's justified in what he did because of Nire. At this moment, I'm waiting to see what Aldridge's response is. Does he try and show Thrayjen how he's losing himself? Does he snap at Thrayjen to wake up and see what he's doing? Does he rant about Nire? Well, no, he says "hey, you like tea?" Now, at this point, I was actually still on-board. The tea scene had the potential to answer the prompt delivered to Aldridge via the dialogue quoted, but ultimately it was just "they talk over tea, Aldridge gets the right recipe for Adeen's brew. Yay?"
So, just for fun, let's take a look at my first idea I mentioned: "he tries to show Thrayjen that he's losing himself." How would one accomplish that in the following tea scene? Well, they sort through the tea, Thrayjen makes some educated comments, they chat a bit, but then Aldridge asks Thrayjen about his tea farming. About Nan and the hogbabes. Thrayjen smiles as he talks about them, but his voice gets quieter and quieter--you can see the weight pressing down on his shoulders as he thinks of those happy, joyful times, and is remembering just what he did. For Nire. Aldridge then has an opening to make his point. And he does. It hangs over the steaming tea. And then we see Thrayjen's reaction. He runs away, pushes his tea aside, breaks down and asks for help, does nothing and just stares? Any of the above would be a marked step for their relationship and conflict.

Now, to be clear, I'm not saying "ugh, you should have done what I~I wanted, Aldridge!" My point is only to give an example to what I'm getting at--that the rich potential that existed between these two characters wasn't quite grasped with this scene, and so it makes the moment read hollow. Hopefully this makes sense!

The moment with Tegue was cool. I still think it'd be far more in-character for Aldridge/the Barrowbeasts to not even bother with the FTN and try their own plan out (and also more compelling to read about, since it's all rooted far more directly into Aldridge personally, and the stakes are that much higher for him), but eh. I'll see what you have planned. The line about him caring for Adeen here and fighting her out there is wonderful. An excellent, compelling way of describing the effects someone can have on others and the world around them. The song was really nice as well. Artful, with a good flow to it all, and an interesting point that tied wonderfully to the moment. I'm envious of your poetic prose, Aldridge.

Overall? A good post. But an unsatisfying one. I wanted so much more from Thrayjen. Wanted to much more from the Barrowbeasts. It reads like a lot of things are going to happen next round, which is good! But I recommend looking for moments where you can write in some far richer interactions with the characters and scenes you have at-hand.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on September 14, 2017, 10:36:52 PM
The Monster at the End of This Book

Ohhh, alas. Another falls to the axe of Nire Borean.

Ah ha, I see what you were setting up. Monster fighter indeed. Clever with him facing off against Minerva. I'm glad we get to see another cast member kill one of the death votes, and this time in the arena proper!

The Blasio moment I'm split on. On the one hand, it's really well written. That beat before Blasio registers and Silas lunges is great, and the scene itself is really sharp. ...but I'm disappointed that the fang didn't actually poison Blasio. What a way that would be for Silas to go out, and what it could potentially do for the rest of the cast. If Blasio is funding the FTN, then what does this mean for their plans as he slowly succumbs to poison? Is the timeline ramped up? If he's not, how does a greedy McMoneybags like Blasio react to his impending doom? Ahh, alas, such potential, withered on the vine. My precious conflict... *sad woozle face*

Quote
“And do you happen to have physical proof that Blasio is helping the FTN?” Nire challenged, voice low and controlled.

Silence.
Hrm, actually, he does. The coin he was given. It proves he has a connection to the FTN, and isn't just making utter nonsense up, in the least. Not to mention, I'm pretty sure Nire would spare him to use him as a tool inside the FTN (like Minerva). I understand why this didn't happen, but as I read it, it did hit me that yeah, Silas does have some proof on him.

Quote
picturing Artie, reading secretly when he thought his parents were asleep, as if the stunted candle wouldn’t give him away the next day. ”Just one more chapter!” he would beg, gripped by tales meant for mice of Martin the Warrior and Badgers of Legend. Books Silas too, had grown up on.
I love this description. Really want to stop and highlight it, because it feels so genuine. The bit about the candle, the son's love of mice stories, the stories Silas himself grew up on. There's so much history and weight and meaning to this passage, and it hits home oh-so-well. I really get a feeling for the wonderful family Silas had, and what he's lost. Well written here, Silas.

The fight with Minerva was nice. A bit simple, so not too much to go into, but nice.

My condolences on your death, Silas. You had a really nice character and an engaging grasp of prose and descriptive work. Wish you the best moving on.
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on September 19, 2017, 10:17:11 PM
ROUND FOUR RECAP

We came. We saw. We haven't conquered the Crater yet. Yes, it's that time once again for our weekly look at the week that was!

BEST DESCRIPTION

Some really, truly excellent bits here. Silas' aside about his family - and son in particular - was genuinely stirring, Adeen's handling of the Hargorn depravity was both artful and tasteful, and Kali's references and surprising added depth with her "today is a new day" peptalks. This goes to Aldridge, for his line of "A general's words." It's a moment that all authors should look to learn from--how to say a lot in very few words. More than just a fanciful spin of craft, though, it works because we know Aldridge's character, and we believe that he would understand and catch these details. A sharp moment that changed my entire perspective of Eve.

MOST EXCITING POTENTIAL

My my, lots of things set up in this round. Aldridge and his Barrowbuddies building up steam for a redeem-the-Crater crusade, Adeen's odd-but-intriguing twist with Rinam/Fenton, Eve's underhanded and cutthroat ways coming to light, Kentrith being found out by Nix, or Kali's getting further roped into plans far above her paygrade. In what is no surprise to anyone, however, this one goes to Thrayjen, for the twist of him falling to Nire's expectations. It makes perfect sense for the character, shifts a former strength into a weakness (his amiable nature), and promises tremendous conflict down the line. I am at the edge of my seat to see where the author goes with this. Keep it up, Thrayjen--don't drop the ball on this and lose the juicy conflict you've got going. Keep me engaged, keep me guessing, and keep me begging all that's good that Thrayjen doesn't ultimately succumb to Nire's whims.

BIGGEST BREAK IN SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF

Oof. Some of these were more far-reaching than others. The FTN wholesale trusting Minvera and Silas with one of their leader's identities, Aldridge having another "I don't like this but K" moment with Eve, or Minerva's consistent amazingness at heavy combat despite really only being a well-built and serious farmwife. But this goes to Komi, for how well everything ends up going for our resident stoat runaway. She's back with Aldridge, a kiss is all that's needed to avoid certain death, Jossia is tossed out by Nire because #reasons, she gets her drum back, etc. It's too many steps too far, and really ends up robbing the scene of my connection to Komi and her personal struggles when they're resolved so quickly and easily.

THE SAFE PILE

No art this time. I'm sorry! Perhaps next week.

So this will be the last time four of you beasts will make my list, as next week, we cut it back to three. As a new addition, however, alongside my praise will also be one criticism to keep in mind going forward.
As always, in no particular order:

1: Aldridge
+ great promise with his personal driving ethic, his deep relationships with cast and NPC alike, and a proactive goal.
- occasional poor use of present opportunities in scene structure/cast interactions. Start playing your cards.
2: Kali
+ consistently enjoyable prose, vivid and bold character, now wrapped up into a larger plot
- runs the risk of only being a pawn or bit-player in the story. Kali will need to affect great change on her terms and because of her actions to survive.
3: Adeen
+ twist with Fenton is engaging, Rinam seems primed to work as an excellent mirror to Adeen, craft continues to impress.
- no idea what story Adeen is exactly telling now, given the sudden and surprising shift. Next round better make this clear.
4: Thrayjen
+ great turnaround, compelling character conflict, active role within the world and plot.
- runs the risk of dropping the ball by not wholly addressing the conflict, turmoil, and change Thrayjen has just undergone.


As we move into the Fifth Round of the contest, I wanted to congratulate all who've made it this far, and give you a woozle-y pat on the back for providing a consistently engaging story to read. I'm very excited to see how it ends. Best of luck moving forward!
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Thrayjen on September 19, 2017, 10:49:50 PM
Aw, shucks, Tooley, I'm flattered. Your reviews are immensely helpful in our pursuit of a fantastic story with well-built characters and exciting ideas. I'm glad you're enjoying Thrayjen so much as to put him onto the safe list; I'm very relieved, heh!

Just, ah, one tiny thing. I think you mean to award your 'Best Description' to Aldridge for his 'Loggerhead' post. As much as I'd like to take credit for that line...alas, I can't! XD
Title: Re: Storyteller's Vigil
Post by: Tooley Bostay on September 19, 2017, 10:56:47 PM
That's very kind of you to say, Thrayjen. Thank you for taking the time to do so. I'm glad my reviews are of help, and I am very much looking forward to seeing more of these well-built characters and exciting ideas!

Just, ah, one tiny thing. I think you mean to award your 'Best Description' to Aldridge for his 'Loggerhead' post. As much as I'd like to take credit for that line...alas, I can't! XD

Wait, what? Naw, no way, that must be--*rereads post* ... oh

*hurriedly fixes it* Thanks for the note! My bad. =P